COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine iStock

A new study comparing side effects of the coronavirus vaccine to complications of the coronavirus itself is being published on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research study, which was conducted by the Clalit health fund along with Harvard University, followed two million cases, all members of Clalit.

The first part of the study, Israel Hayom reports, compared the presence of 25 different side effects in people who were recently vaccinated and a control group that had not been vaccinated. In the second part of the study, the same 25 side effects were compared in people who had recently contracted coronavirus to a control group that had not contracted the virus (none of whom was vaccinated).

The head of Clalit’s innovations department, Prof. Ran Balicer, concluded from the study’s results that, “Yet again, we are seeing how safe the vaccine is, and also, how natural infection with the coronavirus in an unvaccinated person exposes him to significant dangers which are likely to lead to serious illness – and this is aside from the direct danger from coronavirus infection which can damage the lungs and cause serious complications to arise.”

He added that, “In this study, we did not find any excess cases of myocardial infarction, stroke, or arrhythmia, or of severe blood clotting disorders such as deep vein blood clots or pulmonary embolism, but we did find these effects in those who were unvaccinated and contracted the coronavirus ‘naturally.’”

Clalit’s research also measured the rate of myocardial infection in vaccinated individuals as opposed to those who contracted the virus. The results showed a rate of 2.7 cases in 100,000 for the vaccinated population, as opposed to 11 cases per 100,000 for those who contracted the coronavirus and were not vaccinated, and similar findings were reported with regard to other side effects.

However, the study did not research outcomes for people who were vaccinated and despite that, contracted the coronavirus – so-called breakthrough cases.

“In the current situation, with a high rate of infection, this study highlights the need for people who have yet to be vaccinated to go out and get vaccinated urgently,” said Prof. Balicer. “Choosing to be vaccinated is a wise decision in light of this extensive study that has now been given a ‘stamp of approval’ by the world’s leading medical journal.”

Prof. Ben Reis, Director of the Predictive Medicine Group at the Boston Children’s Hospital Computational Health Informatics Program and Harvard Medical School, said, “To date, one of the main drivers of vaccine hesitancy has been a lack of information regarding potential side effects of the vaccine. This careful epidemiological study provides reliable information on vaccine safety, which we hope will be helpful to those who have not yet decided about vaccination.”

He continued, “Those who have hesitated until now to get vaccinated due to concerns about very rare side effects – such as myocarditis – should be aware that the risks for this very same side effect are actually higher among unvaccinated infected individuals."

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