There is not an increased risk of heart inflammation from Pfizer’s Covid vaccine in British adults and older teenagers, the world’s biggest study into the issue suggests.
According to analysis by Oxford and Edinburgh universities, myocarditis is occurring at an average of 3 per million jabs in patients aged 16-40.
This was in no way different from the average rate for that age group within the general population.
Early in the rollout, reports of myocarditis among young people in Britain and in teenagers from other countries complicated discussions about whether British children should get a shot. Data from Israel and US — where the dosage gap is only three weeks — suggested the condition was more common.
Experts think that Britain’s 12-week interval has helped to keep myocarditis rates low and reduced the risk.
The data was described by scientists as being reassuring to teenagers. The data does not specifically address teenagers, leaving questions unanswered about the incidence of teenage suicide.
After the Government resigned on the rollout of the vaccine, all over-12s can now get the Pfizer vaccine.
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation — the independent group advising ministers on vaccine policy — is now locked in discussions on whether to recommend vaccines to children as young as five.
Chair of the panel Professor Lim Wei Shen hinted today that the decision would be taken before Christmas.
Many scientists are still unsure about the safety of vaccinating young children because they know how small the risk is.
The advisers at No10 were initially hesitant about approving them, as the benefits didn’t clearly outweigh any risks. It was unlikely that the virus would cause serious illness or death in children.
The University of Oxford and Edinburgh found no instances of ultrarare heart inflammation in the second doses of Pfizer (labelled BNT162b2 below) and AstraZeneca (labelled ChAdOx1) vaccines. This was across all age groups. Pfizer’s vaccine caused excess admissions for under-40s after the first and second doses. It also led to three extra admissions per one million.
The graph shows hospital admissions for cardiac arrhythmia, myocarditis and pericarditis between April 2019 and October 2021. Myocarditis admissions are down throughout 2021, but they have not been significantly higher since the introduction of the vaccine.
Published in Nature Medicine, the study examined data from 38 million people who had been vaccinated during December 1-August 24th. Only a little over eighteen million of these were younger than 30.
Researchers calculated ‘excess’ myocarditis cases — those which would not have occurred without jabs or Covid infection — for each vaccine type.
Zero cases were found in people aged 16 to 40 who had AstraZeneca — although very few in the age group were given the company’s vaccine.
People who received a second dose were at risk of three extra cases per million, whereas those who took the first one were only affected by two.
Moderna showed a higher rate of incidence with 8 per million doses and 15 per millions doses.
Covid itself caused 10 excess cases of myocarditis per million infections — higher than both doses of Pfizer’s and AstraZeneca’s vaccines, but lower than in second doses of Moderna’s vaccine.
The MHRA has approved Moderna’s vaccine for 12–17-year-olds. This is the official sign-off to any drug used in Britain.
The JCVI does not recommend this, and Pfizer is the only company that offers such a treatment.
Research had shown that men were more at risk. It did not reduce rates among younger adults.
Independent experts believe that there is a lower risk of developing myocarditis in young children than it is among adolescents.
Pfizer found that children aged 12 to 15 years old who have not been vaccinated are three times more likely to contract Covid than those who were fully vaccinated earlier in the week.
Co-author of this study Professor Aziz Sheikh from the University of Edinburgh stated: “Overall, the message is, these risks are substantially greater in those who develop SARSCoV-2.
‘The numbers are very small — but I think overall these data are reassuring for young people as well.’
Professor Nicholas Mills from the university is a consultant cardiacologist. He said that he doesn’t see any evidence to change his recommendation regarding vaccinations for children.
The Omicron super mutant variant is thought to increase myocarditis danger. However, there are no data available.
Retired consultant for communicable diseases control, Dr Peter English said that: “The take-home message.” [is]Get vaccinated if you do not want to contract myocarditis and pericarditis.
“If you are not vaccinated with the ever-growing spread of SARS/CoV-2 viruses, you will soon get Covid. The risks of getting vaccinated far outweigh them all.
Current discussions between government advisers and the Government about expanding the roll-out of the program to all people over five by Christmas.
Other nations, such as the US or all EU member countries have also done this.
Professor Lim stated today to the Science and Technology committee that MPs are currently discussing the matter.
“We are also waiting for vaccine approval by MHRA.”
Greg Clark was the chairman of the committee. He asked, “So would you expect a decision to be made before Christmas on it?”
Professor Lim said: “I would expect that, we try to keep in line with the approval process.” He did not give a more specific time frame.
Some experts call for the Omicron strain to be rolled out to older patients to prevent the impending flood of hospitalisations.
SAGE adviser Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, called for jabs for five to 11-year-olds ‘as soon as possible’.
The number of cases has been the highest among under-18s in November. There were more than 32,000 per day in this age group last week. This compares to less than 1,000 in over-75s according to ZOE data released today.
Professor Edmunds spoke at the Royal Society of Medicine Event. He stated: “We have, had, a large number of patients over the past few months and unfortunately high amounts of hospitalizations and 100-150 deaths per day.
“I don’t claim that all of this has been caused by children. But, unfortunately, a lot of it has.
“So, from a population standpoint, it seems pretty obvious that we need to vaccinate all our children.