American Heart Association promotes research downplaying COVID vaccine heart risk to youth

Study acknowledges about one in five patients was admitted to intensive care, but none died and hospitalization was short.

Updated: December 12, 2021 - 11:23pm

The American Heart Association (AHA) is promoting research that plays down the risk of heart problems in young people after receiving COVID-19 vaccines, while its medical journal reevaluates research it published that found the vaccines increase heart risk across the age spectrum.

The move follows governments worldwide, most recently Japan, warning their citizens about possible heart inflammation following vaccination, especially for young men and young people who receive the Moderna vaccine. 

The Food and Drug Administration also added myocarditis (heart muscle) and pericarditis (tissue around the heart) to the fact sheets for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines, which remain under emergency use authorization (EUA).

The new study in Circulation determined that "most cases of suspected COVID-19 vaccine-related myocarditis in people younger than 21 are mild and resolve quickly," said corresponding author Dongngan Truong of the University of Utah in the a Dec. 6 AHA release.

Further down, however, AHA disclosed a more alarming finding: "About one in five patients (18.7%) was admitted to intensive care," though none died and most hospitalizations were 2-3 days. 

The same percentage had "at least mildly decreased left ventricular function" when they showed up, but patients who came back for a checkup — all but one — had "returned to normal.

According to the Circulation study, pediatric cardiologists from several institutions analyzed data on 139 patients, ages 12-20, who showed up with suspected heart-muscle inflammation within 30 days of vaccination. About twice as many were "probable" as "confirmed."

Nearly all patients (99%) had chest pain, followed by fever (31%) and shortness of breath (27%). Among 97 patients who had cardiac MRIs, 77% showed evidence of heart inflammation or injury.

Other findings backed previous research on post-vaccination heart inflammation. Nine in 10 patients were male — the same demographic most affected by "rare side effects" from smallpox vaccines, senior author Jane Newburger of Harvard Medical School said in the release.

Almost all cases followed mRNA vaccination (98%) and the second vaccine dose specifically (91%).

Asked if promoting the study meant AHA was taking a firm stance in favor of COVID vaccination for young people, a very low-risk group for COVID complications, spokesperson Suzanne Grant told Just the News "the statements and conclusions of the research are those of the study authors."

But she elaborated in a lengthy email that AHA "continues to fully support the CDC's COVID-19 vaccination recommendations."

When the feds first noticed higher-than-expected myocarditis rates among vaccinated young people this spring, AHA emphasized that the benefits of vaccination "enormously outweigh the rare, possible risk of heart-related complications" for everyone 12 and older. It did the same when the CDC recommended vaccination for ages 5-11.

Backpedaling

AHA's promotion of the Dec. 6 study contrasts sharply with the "expression of concern" Circulation attached to a research abstract that went viral weeks earlier. Former cardiac surgeon Steven Gundry described a sharp increase in his patients' post-COVID vaccination "acute coronary syndrome" risk.

Dec. 6 was also the deadline Circulation gave Gundry to correct the abstract. While his representative declined to comment, AHA's Grant told Just the News that "Gundry has been in contact with the journal throughout this process," which will continue until a corrected abstract is accepted and published.

She emphasized the differences between peer-reviewed research in Circulation and the research abstracts it publishes automatically from its conferences, which is where Gundry first presented his findings. The latter represent the start of "a scientific dialogue."

AHA promoted the new study finding mild and temporary vaccine-related heart issues based on its "newsworthiness for a lay audience," Grant said. These are chosen about six weeks before publication. The studies that aren't chosen are often "highly technical in nature and wouldn’t be of interest or actionable for consumers." 

Much like the AHA, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) backpedaled earlier this year after promoting "research we funded" that implied mRNA vaccines could be dangerous.

The BHF originally said the COVID spike protein — the mechanism by which mRNA vaccines work — binds to the cells lining the small vessels of the heart, which "triggers a cascade of changes which disrupt normal cell function." 

It substantially revised that statement three weeks later, removing the funding note, adding a disclaimer that the research wasn't peer reviewed, and emphasizing there was "no evidence to suggest that spike proteins generated by the vaccine behave in a similar way" to the spike protein on the virus.

'Unusual injury'

COVID vaccine side effects have often been suspected when famous people develop unusual conditions without a plausible explanation. 

That was the online chatter when CJ McCollum of the Portland Trailblazers, whose full roster is vaccinated, reportedly suffered bruised ribs in a game earlier this month, yet his X-rays came back negative

"Upon further examination," McCollum was deemed to have a collapsed lung — an uncommon injury among NBA players

Blazers spokesperson Jim Taylor initially told Just the News that health privacy law prevented him from clarifying whether the collapsed lung was attributable to bruised ribs or the original diagnosis was wrong. He later confirmed the collapsed lung was connected to the rib injury.

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'Does not retroactively apply'

Despite the rush to vaccinate every age group, only one vaccine has received full approval in the U.S., Pfizer's Comirnaty, and it's not widely available. 

While some fact-checkers have claimed there's no difference between Pfizer's emergency and fully approved vaccines, a federal judge rejected that argument in a challenge to the Department of Defense's vaccine mandate. 

DOD claims Pfizer's EUA vaccine "became Comirnaty" after approval of the latter's biologics license application, but "FDA licensure does not retroactively apply to vials shipped before BLA approval," the Nov. 12 order says. 

DOD's guidance documents only let it mandate fully approved vaccines — which must be "produced at approved facilities" — and the "explicit cross-reference to the EUA provisions suggests a concern that drugs mandated for military personnel be actually BLA-approved," U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor wrote.

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