COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccineiStock

The SARS-COVID-2 vaccine developed by Pfzier and BioNTECH is likely responsible for hundreds of cases of a rare heart condition, according to a new report by Israel’s Health Ministry.

The report, which was released on Tuesday, concluded that hundreds of cases of myocarditis, or heart muscle inflammation, were probably caused by the coronavirus vaccine administered as part of Israel’s mass vaccination campaign.

The vast majority of cases were reported among young men and teenage boys. Most of the cases were reported among males ages 16 to 30, with the highest proportion found among male teens aged 16-19. Ninety percent of all the myocarditis cases linked to the vaccine were reported in males.

"There is a probable link between receiving the second dose of the vaccine and the appearance of myocarditis among men aged 16 to 30," the report reads in part.

In April, Israeli health officials made note of the possible connection between the vaccine and heart muscle inflammation, after more than 60 cases were reported shortly after vaccination.

A month later, the US Centers for Disease Control announced it was also probing the possible connection between the vaccine and myocarditis.

By late May, more than a hundred reports of myocarditis were reported in Europe, despite the relatively low rate of vaccinations among young men.

According to the Israeli Health Ministry report, 275 vaccine recipients were diagnosed with myocarditis immediately or shortly after getting the COVID shot between December 2020 and May 2021. Of those, 27 reported the condition immediately after the first shot and 121 immediately after the second dose.

“I am convinced there is a relationship,” said Dror Mevorach, the chief of internal medicine at Hadassah University Medical Center who was tapped to investigate the link.

While the condition requires hospitalization, the Health Ministry report emphasized that most of the cases of myocarditis linked to the vaccine were mild, with 95% of the patients listed in light condition. Most of those who suffered from myocarditis were hospitalized for no more than four days.

There were two fatal cases of myocarditis, however, though the report said the Health Ministry has yet to confirm whether both deaths were directly caused by the vaccine. In one case, the patient may have had a more generalized inflammatory syndrome, and in the other the diagnosis remains “not verified”.

Even though the risk of myocarditis remains low even for young men – with an estimated one in three thousand suffering from the condition after the vaccine – the report noted that the vaccine did increase the chances young men could suffer from myocarditis by anywhere from five to twenty-five times.

With Israel poised to begin vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 15, Israel’s coronavirus czar, Prof. Nachman Ash, told Radio 103FM Wednesday that the “benefits outweigh the concerns of inflammation,” but added that “in light of the low infection rates, there is no great hurry to vaccinate” children.”