US health chiefs have called an urgent meeting over Covid vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna amid fears they cause heart damage in teenagers — but UK regulators have yet to see the same complication.
Centers for Disease Control bosses will gather on June 18 to discuss 226 plausible cases of heart inflammation in young people — mainly affecting boys and young men — after they have received their second doses of the vaccines.
CDC bosses said Thursday the number of cases is higher than expected, although still rare.
All the plausible cases may meet the CDC’s ‘working case definition’ of myocarditis and pericarditis following the shots, the agency said.
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart.
Among the 226, three are in intensive care, 15 are hospitalised and 41 have ongoing symptoms. The other 167 have recovered.
It is not clear if either condition is caused by the shots and the reports of cases are extremely rare.
The CDC continues to urge everyone aged 12 and older in the US to get vaccinated.
Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it is ‘closely monitoring reports of myocarditis and pericarditis received with the Covid-19 vaccines’.
The medical regulator last week insisted it had ‘no new safety concerns’ about the Pfizer jab after an Israeli study found 275 cases of myocarditis across six months among five million vaccinated people.
No10 currently has no plans to expand the vaccine roll-out to under-18s and none have yet had a first vaccine dose, so the problem is unlikely to be as prevalent in the UK.
Most of the cases in the US were in under-24s — who have yet to begin receiving their first jabs in Britain — and comparatively few Moderna doses have been dished out in the UK.
Last night it also emerged that supplies of the Pfizer vaccine to the UK will reduce throughout June.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called an ’emergency meeting’ over 226 cases of heart inflammation in people who have had either the Pfizer or Moderna Covid vaccines
US health officials Thursday announced they are investigating what appear to be higher than expected reports of heart inflammation in male teens and young adults after getting their second doses of the two vaccines
The MHRA has received 34 reports of myocarditis and 26 reports of pericarditis following use of the Pfizer vaccine.
It has seen similar levels after AstraZeneca — 31 of myocarditis and 51 of pericarditis — and only two after Moderna.
UK FOR SHORTAGE IN PFIZER VACCINES OVER JUNE
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi admitted that supply of the Pfizer vaccine will be tight over the next few weeks but insisted that it was ‘stable’.
It comes after Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf warned supply of the Pfizer vaccine will be ‘particularly tight’ over the next few weeks.
Mr Zahawi told LBC: ‘I am absolutely confident, and I’ll speak to Humza on this, that we will be able to deliver the Pfizer vaccines that Scotland needs to be able to meet its targets for end of July, as the United Kingdom target.’
Asked if it is going to be ‘tight’ in the next few weeks, he said: ‘It will be, there is no doubt. Every time I’ve come on your show I’ve said that the determining factor in terms of vaccine in arms is supply.
‘And supply remains finite, but it is stable, and Pfizer have done a great job in being consistent on their delivery schedule.’
The regulator said: ‘The number of reports of myocarditis and pericarditis reported with the vaccines in the UK remains similar or below the expected background rate in different age groups within the general population and does not currently indicate an increased risk following vaccination against Covid-19.
‘We will continue to closely monitor these events reported in the UK and internationally.’
These types of heart inflammation can be caused by a variety of infections, including a bout of Covid, as well as certain medications.
There have been rare reports following other types of vaccinations in the past.
More than 130 million Americans have received both their first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
This means just 0.000173846 percent of people who have been administered their second doses have reported such an effect.
Cases are reported through the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
The system accepts reports from everyone regardless of the plausibility of the vaccine causing the symptom.
In total, VAERS received 573 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after the patient had received their second dose.
A total of 372 reports were from people who had the Pfizer vaccine, while the remaining 201 had Moderna.
Another 216 cases of the heart inflammation were also reported after dose one of the vaccines.
More than half of the cases reported after people had received their second dose were in people between the ages of 12 and 24, the CDC said.
This group accounts for less than 9 percent of doses administered. Almost two-fifths of cases were in males.
A total of 226 cases have been reported that may meet the CDC’s ‘working case definition’ of myocarditis and pericarditis following the shots, the agency said. Among the 226, three are in intensive care, 15 are hospitalised, and 41 have ongoing symptoms. The rest have recovered
WHAT IS MYOCARDITIS?
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. There are no specific causes of the condition but it is usually triggered by a virus.
Some of the most common infections which cause myocarditis, are those called adenovirus and Coxsackie B.
It can be caused by the common cold, hepatitis B and C, and herpes simplex virus.
The most common symptoms of the condition include chest pain, a fever, a fast heartbeat, tiredness and shortness of breath.
If the inflammation damages the heart muscle or the fibres that conduct electrical pulses to the heart, complications can develop.
They can develop quickly, and include sudden loss of consciousness, an abnormally fast, slow or irregular heartbeat.
In very severe cases the condition is fatal, causing heart failure or sudden death. The inflammation enlarges the heart and creates scar tissue, forcing it to work harder and therefore making it weaker.
In most cases of viral myocarditis, the illness goes away and there are no complications.
But in rare cases when inflammation is severe, there can be damage to the heart which needs monitoring and possibly a heart transplant.
Myocarditis can reoccur, but there is no known way to prevent this. The risk of recurrence is low, around 10 to 15 per cent, according to Myocarditis Foundation.
It is difficult to gauge the prevalence of myocarditis because there is no widely available test for it.
In 2010, approximately 400,000 people died of heart muscle disease – cardiomyopathy that includes myocarditis – worldwide.
Expert consensus opinion estimates that up to 40 per cent of dilated cardiomyopathy results from myocarditis, according to the National Organisation for Rare Disorders.
The overwhelming majority of the cases have occurred within a week of vaccination.
Symptoms included chest pain and breathing difficulties.
The CDC’s vaccine advisory committee will meet on June 18 to further evaluate the possible risk.
Dr Tom Shimabukuro told a government vaccine meeting about the investigation Thursday.
He said: ‘It’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison because, again, these are preliminary reports.’
‘Not all these will turn out to be true myocarditis or pericarditis reports.’
Shimabukuro said the CDC findings were mostly ‘consistent’ with the findings of Israel’s Health Ministry, which first reported a likely link to the Pfizer vaccine and the condition in young men.
Doctors were first alerted to the possible link between myocarditis and vaccines back in May, amid reports of cases in young males.
The CDC urged providers to ask patients with symptoms of heart inflammation if they had taken the COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier this month, it was reported that seven teen boys in the US had suffered heart inflammation after their second Pfizer shots.
The study found the boys, aged between the ages of 14 and 19, developed chest pain within a few days of having the second jab.
Heart imaging tests showed myocarditis.
None were critically ill, and all were healthy enough to be sent home after two to six days in the hospital.
Around the same time, the Department of Defense began to track 14 cases.
Israel claimed in early June that its research showed Pfizer’s vaccine is the ‘probable’ cause of heart inflammation in a very small number of people who get the jab.
The Health Ministry had found 148 cases of myocarditis soon after the patient had been vaccinated.
In total, 275 cases were spotted among the more than five million people given the Pfizer jab in Israel, which has had one of the world’s most successful jab rollouts.
In the remaining 127 cases, it is unclear if they are linked to the vaccine.
This was equivalent to just 0.005 per cent of recipients, or one in 20,000 people.
For the 148 cases ‘probably’ linked to the jab, the rate was 0.003 per cent — although half of them had other underlying health problems.
Israel was one of the first to warn of health concerns linked to the Pfizer vaccine.
In May, officials at the European Medicines Agency also reported receiving 107 reports of myocarditis following the Pfizer vaccine.
Pfizer was granted emergency use authorisation for children aged 12 and over last month in the US. It is now working on trials with children as young as six months old.
Moderna is still only available for adults in the country.
Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have also both been investigated for possible — extremely rare — ties to blood clots.
The MHRA last week approved the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds in the UK but there are no plans to expand the roll-out to under-18s yet.
Pfizer’s supply shortage to the UK comes as a blow, making the prospect of speeding up the vaccine roll-out to meet demand much more difficult.
MSP Humza Yousaf told Matt Hancock in a letter that supplies of the jab are to be ‘particularly tight over the next few weeks’, not just in Scotland but across the UK, according to the i newspaper.
Mr Yousaf’s fears are the result of the updated advice published the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation last month, which said that under-40s should be given Pfizer or Moderna jabs rather than the AstraZeneca equivalent due to concerns over a small risk of blood clots in younger patients.
And with thousands of under-30s now receiving jabs after the vaccine roll-out picked up pace, demand for doses of Pfizer has now soared beyond supply levels.