Researchers in Israel say they have discovered a small number of cases of heart inflammation, mainly in young men, which they believe may be linked to the Pfizer COVID vaccine.
The condition, known as myocarditis, was reported in 275 of the approximately 5 million people who received the jab in the six months that they were on offer.
The majority of those reporting the condition were under the age of 30, with the link being most strongly observed in male patients aged 16 to 19 years. The vast majority had only mild symptoms.
Symptoms include tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, high temperature, fatigue and tiredness and palpitations.
Pfizer said it has not seen higher rates of the condition than would normally be expected in the general population. The drugmaker said it was aware of the Israeli study but established no causal link to its vaccine.
Israeli health officials first raised concerns in April about a possible link between the vaccine and myocarditis.
According to the study by three teams of experts from Israel’s Ministry of Health, patients who experienced heart inflammation spent less than five days in the hospital and had symptoms classified as mild in 95 percent of cases.
Report finds “there is a possible link between receiving a second dose” [of Pfizer] vaccine and the presence of myocarditis in men aged 16 to 30 years”, the authors said in a statement reported by Reuters.
Dror Mevorch, who led the panel investigating any link between the Pfizer vaccine and heart inflammation, was quoted by Science The journal said the findings were “very suggestive of a causal nature”. “I believe there is a relationship,” he said.
The country’s pandemic response coordinator Nachman Ash told an Israeli radio station that “the vaccine’s effectiveness outweighs the risks”.
Last month, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory group recommended further study into the possibility of a link between myocarditis and mRNA vaccines, including vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
CDC surveillance systems did not find more cases in the population than expected, but the advisory group said in a statement that members felt that healthcare providers should be made aware of “potential adverse event” reports.
Myocarditis can be triggered by viral infections including COVID-19.
The British Heart Foundation website states that most people recover without any complications, although in rare cases when the inflammation is severe, damage to the heart can occur.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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