The COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech appears to put young men at elevated risk of developing a heart muscle inflammation called myocarditis, researchers in Israel say. In a report submitted today to the Israeli Ministry of Health, they conclude that between one in 3000 and one in 6000 men ages 16 to 24 who received the vaccine developed the rare condition. But most cases were mild and resolved within a few weeks, which is typical for myocarditis. “I can’t imagine it’s going to be anything that would cause medical people to say we shouldn’t vaccinate kids,” says Douglas Diekema, a pediatrician and bioethicist at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Israeli health officials first flagged the issue in April, when they reported more than 60 cases, mostly in young men who had received their second dose of vaccine a few days earlier. Around the same time, the U.S. Department of Defense began to track 14 such cases. In mid-May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it, too, was reviewing myocarditis cases. Officials at the European Medicines Agency said on 28 May they had received 107 reports of myocarditis following the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or about one in 175,000 doses administered. But relatively few people under age 30 have been vaccinated in Europe.
The Israeli panel’s findings come as Israel and many European countries are debating whether younger adolescents should be vaccinated against COVID-19. Israel has been vaccinating teenagers 16 and older since late January, and the Ministry of Health is scheduled to announce tomorrow whether vaccinations will be opened to children 12 and older. Other countries, including the United States and Canada, began vaccinating children 12 and older in mid-May.
Click here to read more.