Pfizer and Moderna are researching rare but potentially quite serious side effects of their COVID-19 vaccines.
The two pharmaceutical giants have launched their own clinical trials on COVID vaccines in young adults and the possible impact of heart conditions.
The issue at hand is “vaccine-induced myocarditis.”
That’s an inflammation of the heart muscle only associated so far with the mRNA vaccines.
“We’ve known for about a year that in young people, mostly males, but in females as well, we seem to have vaccine-induced myocarditis,” said Dr. Jeffrey Singer, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
“For quite some time now, we’ve known since the summer of 2020 that almost all of the serious illnesses and deaths occur in people who are over the age of 50 and usually have other comorbidities,” Singer explained.
“So there have been several experts who have been saying, ‘What’s the rush in trying to get the young people, who are at least risk for getting vaccinated, through an emergency use authorization? Why don’t we spend some more time studying it?’ But nevertheless, that’s happened.”
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. It happens when the body’s immune system reacts to an infection or some other trigger. In more than half of cases, no cause is identified.
Symptoms can include feelings of abnormal heart rhythms, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
In the clinical trials studying the vaccine in kids 12 to 17 years, a small number of adolescents and young adults experienced mild cases of myocarditis after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Once the vaccines had been approved for use in this age group, “real world” cases of COVID vaccine-induced myocarditis also surfaced.
Of the hundreds of millions of Covid vaccine doses given in the U.S. since late 2020, there have been around 1,000 reports of vaccine-related myocarditis or pericarditis in children under age 18, primarily young males, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most of those who developed the condition have fully recovered, although research so far has only looked at how well they’re doing after several months. Some doctors wonder if it can cause permanent damage to the heart.
Singer said since there have been some cases, the manufacturers themselves, Pfizer and Moderna, are going to research if myocarditis is a significant side effect in vaccinated young people.