Mildly dead? German autopsy study undercuts feds' dismissal of COVID vax heart inflammation risks

No signs of "pre-existing, clinically relevant heart disease" in patients who died suddenly at home within a week of mRNA jab, peer-reviewed study finds.

Published: December 15, 2022 4:28pm

Updated: December 15, 2022 11:24pm

Federal public health officials and medical pundits have often written off the heart inflammation that sometimes follows COVID-19 vaccination as "mild" and temporary, but a new study in a peer-reviewed journal finds that the consequences can be severe and permanent.

In standardized autopsies of 25 patients without preexisting illnesses who were "found unexpectedly dead at home" within 20 days of vaccination, Heidelberg University researchers found five had "cardiac autopsy findings consistent with (epi-)myocarditis," according to their study in Clinical Research in Cardiology, the German Cardiac Society's official journal.

The ages and sexes of the five patients differed from the demographics most associated with post-vaccination myocarditis in prior research — young adults to about age 40, especially males. Three were women, and the range was 46-75 years old with a median of 58.

An MIT study published in a Nature journal this spring found COVID vaccination was "significantly associated" with a 25% jump in emergency medical services for heart problems in 16-39 year-olds in highly vaccinated Israel. 

Scientific Reports quickly added a scarlet letter to the study — an editor's note promising to respond to "criticisms" of the conclusions — and told Just the News last month it was still investigating.

A preprint study of about 300 Thai teenagers found "cardiovascular effects" in nearly a third after their second Pfizer dose. While cases were "usually mild" with full recovery in two weeks, three were hospitalized, and four had "markers of cardiac injury that were above normal even without overt symptoms."

The study was published in August in the peer-reviewed Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease, part of Swiss open access science publisher MDPI.

The Heidelberg medical pathologists consulted the federal-state "COVID autopsy and biomaterial registry Baden-Württemberg" and used only autopsies performed in their own hospital to "ensure that all medical documents and findings were available."

All five patients had taken mRNA vaccines from either Pfizer or Moderna. Four patients died after their first vaccine dose, and the fifth after the second. Every death was within a week of the most recent dose. One case wasn't classified as "definitive myocarditis" because "myocardial infiltration did not exceed the threshold of the Dallas criteria" used to diagnose myocarditis.

"All cases lacked significant coronary heart disease, acute or chronic manifestations of ischaemic heart disease, manifestations of cardiomyopathy or other signs of a pre-existing, clinically relevant heart disease," the researchers wrote.

This factor and the "close temporal relation" to vaccination, along with "negative testing for potential myocarditis-causing infectious agents" and the "presence of a peculiar CD4 predominant T-cell infiltrate" associated with "immune mediated mechanism," support a causal link to vaccination, they reason.

The researchers said they hadn't observed "comparable myocardial inflammatory infiltration" during the past 20 years of their university's autopsy service, as validated by "histological re-evaluation of age- and sex-matched cohorts from three independent periods."

Corresponding author Peter Schirmacher told the Brownstone Institute they hadn't ruled out vaccination as cause of death for the other 20 patients, whose "autopsy results were inconclusive."

The researchers played it safe by including only cases where "the constellation was unequivocally clear and no other cause of death was demonstrable despite all efforts," Schirmacher explained. Otherwise, "less strict criteria may lead to 'contamination' of the collective," the pathologist continued, adding that his team wanted to "establish the fact not the size."

The paper shows the five patients suffered an "autoimmune attack on their own heart cells" that caused such fast heartbeats that "once the tachycardia unexpectedly started, they died in minutes ... the heart is effectively pumping no blood," former vaccine microbiologist Joe Wang wrote in an Epoch Times essay with journalist Jennifer Margulis. 

"If you're not in a hospital situation with a defibrillator" when this happens, "you're going to die unexpectedly at home," retired U.K. nurse educator John Campbell said in his review of the study

"The inflammation was fairly mild in most of these cases," too little to "affect the contraction of the myocardium on its own, but because they were electrically unstable ... the person basically just drops dead," said Campbell, who runs a popular YouTube medical channel. "Let's not minimize it."

That, some argue, is what the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics did in its new meta-analysis of 23 studies on "mRNA vaccine-associated myopericarditis in adolescents and young adults," which described their outcomes as "largely favorable."

"Although 15.6% of patients had left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction, only 1.3% had severe LV systolic dysfunction," the international team of cardiology researchers wrote. Late gadolinium enhancement, or scarring, "was found in 87.2% and 23.2% required intensive care unit admission; however, no in-hospital mortality was observed."

Cardiac electrophysiologist John Mandrola, who hosts the podcast This Week in Cardiology, said it was "both true and misleading" to rely on studies that find about 1 in 100,000 incidence of vaccine-induced myocarditis, because of the stark difference in risk by demographic.

"The core problem with myocarditis (of any sort) is the asymmetry and unpredictability of risk," he wrote in the Sensible Medicine newsletter Dec. 12. "Yes, most patients with myocarditis recover," but "sometimes myocarditis can be horrible. And there are few if any predictors."

University of Pittsburgh medical professor Walid Gellad, director of its Center for Pharmaceutical Policy & Prescribing, praised Mandrola's analysis. "The unknowns around potential long term issues for myocarditis are real, but they have been constantly minimized by many doctors talking publicly about it," Gellad tweeted.

"It's mild unless you are in the ICU with myocarditis," Johns Hopkins medical professor and National Academy of Sciences member Marty Makary tweeted, citing a December 2021 New England Journal of Medicine study of post-Pfizer myocarditis in Israel, "or one of the 5 patients in the recent German study found dead at home with it."

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