COVID-19: US committee examines heart problems in vaccinated young people

American experts are due to meet in the United States on Wednesday to study about 300 cases of heart inflammation caused by the administration of certain COVID-19 vaccines, especially in adolescents or young adults.

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These cases were followed by vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna, which all have in common that they are based on messenger RNA technology.

Independent experts are convened by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the country’s leading federal public health agency, to review these cases of myocarditis and pericarditis, respectively, inflammation of the heart muscle or heart membrane. a heart.

“These cases are rare and the vast majority (of them) have been dealt with with rest and care,” said Rochelle Walenski, director of the CDC, on Thursday.

This meeting of the CDC’s Vaccination Advisory Committee (ACIP) was originally scheduled to take place last Friday, but had to be postponed due to the sudden announcement of a public holiday in the United States.

“The CDC will provide details of more than 300 confirmed cases of myocarditis and pericarditis that have been reported to the CDC and the FDA, among more than 20 million adolescents and young adults vaccinated in the States. United, Ms Walenski explained.

“In recent months, we have asked practitioners to be alert and report cases of patients with symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination,” she added.

CDC “received detailed medical reports to confirm diagnoses (…) to make sure our vaccines are safe in real time,” she finally reassured, saying “look forward to this important discussion.”

For the first time, such cases were reported in Israel, where vaccination was faster than in most countries. In late May, Israel’s health ministry raised the issue of a “possible link” between the Pfizer vaccine and cases of myocarditis in young men, pointing out that 95% of the cases were benign.

Several cases have also been found in France.

In the United States, two weeks ago, a pharmaceutical agency committee meeting analyzed information from the public system to allow anyone to report severe symptoms after vaccination.

According to this anecdotal evidence, about 530 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis have returned after a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. More than half were people between the ages of 12 and 24, most of them men. The most common symptom was chest pain.

“The reported cases exceed the expected number of cases,” under normal circumstances, said Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, head of the CDC, during this presentation, but these figures need to be verified.

“I am concerned, but would like to point out that a causal relationship has not yet been established,” Lorrie Rubin, director of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Unit at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, told AFP.

“In our hospital, we have seen cases of teenage boys developing chest pain a day or two after the second dose of messenger RNA vaccine,” he said.

But these cases were “relatively mild,” and most were treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.

And even if a link between vaccinations and myocarditis is proven, the benefits of these vaccines may still outweigh the risks, he said.

Although adolescents and young adults have a lower risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19, more than 2,600 people aged 0-29 have died from it in the United States, according to health officials.

Some children are “seriously ill” due to the illness and suffer “long-term consequences,” Lee Savio Bierce, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, added in an interview with AFP. “You can also have some pretty serious heart problems as a result of COVID-19 infection,” she added.

“I still recommend the vaccine for adolescents,” the specialist said, without saying to expect a change in vaccine recommendations.

In the US, the Pfizer vaccine has been licensed since the age of 12, and the Moderna vaccine from the age of 18.

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