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25% increase in acute cardiac emergency calls associated with Covid vaccine roll-out, study finds 

A new study, published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature, has found that a 25% increase in emergency call outs for serious heart issues were “significantly associated” with the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out to the 16-39-year-old population. 

The research, using a “unique dataset” from the Israel National Emergency Medical Services (EMS)  from 2019-2021, observed an increase in the number of emergency calls for cardiac arrest and acute coronary syndrome in 16-39 year olds during the period that the vaccine was administered to this age group. The study did not find the same association between emergency callouts for cardiac issues and Covid-19 infection rates.

“[T]he weekly emergency call counts were significantly associated with the rates of 1st and 2nd vaccine doses administered to this age group but were not with COVID-19 infection rates,” researchers found.

They cautioned that the finding did not establish causal relationships, but did “raise concerns regarding vaccine-induced undetected severe cardiovascular side-effects” and underscored “the already established causal relationship between vaccines and myocarditis, a frequent cause of unexpected cardiac arrest in young individuals.”

The study found that while negative cardiac outcomes had been reported with Covid-19 infection, the analysis of emergency calls did not show a significant rise in the number of callouts for cardiac arrests or acute coronary syndrome while the Covid-19 infection rate grew amongst 16-39 year olds.

However, the number of calls for acute cardiac emergencies rose significantly as the Covid-19 vaccines began to be rolled out in Israel to the same cohort. The rate of emergency callouts rose even more significantly for women than men – with calls up more than 40% for acute coronary syndrome for women ages 16-39 in the Covid-vaccination period.

 

The researchers sought to investigate a trend after noting that “data from regulatory surveillance and self-reporting systems, including the Vaccine Adverse events Reporting System (VAERS) in the United States (US), the Yellow Card System in the United Kingdom, and the EudraVigilance system in Europe, associate similar cardiovascular side-effects, with a number of COVID-19 vaccines currently in use.”

They said that while “the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination are clear” especially for vulnerable populations, it is “important to better understand the potential risks to minimize potential harm”.

“However, assessing the connection between myocarditis and other potential cardiovascular conditions, and the COVID-19 vaccines is challenging. First, self-reporting systems of adverse events are known to have self-reporting bias and both under and over-reporting problems. Even the study from Israel that is based on more proactive data collection mentions that some of the potentially relevant cases were not fully investigated,” they wrote.

The study therefore sought to use “additional data sources, such as those from emergency medical services (EMS)” which they felt would “complement self-reporting vaccine surveillance systems in identifying COVID-19 related public health trends. ”

Changes across separate age-groups (16-39, over 40 or all ages) and in respect of the full calendar year (2019–2020) and from January 1st to May 31st (2019–2021) were calculated.  January–May time period was used for comparison as it corresponds with the administration of vaccinations among the 16–39 age group in 2021. The full calendar year comparisons were calculated to examine the changes in calls when COVID-19 infections were prevalent, but no vaccinations were administered among the 16–39 age group, researchers said.

The results highlighted “a statistically significant increase of over 25%” in both cardiac arrest (25.7%) and acute coronary syndrome (26.0%) for patients of ages 16–39 during January–May 2021, compared to the same period in 2020, the study found.

“Interestingly, for [cardiac arrest] , there is no statistically significant difference in the respective call volume across the full year (January–December) from 2019 to 2020 (relative decrease of − 2.4% [P = 0.740]), prior to the vaccination rollout and third COVID-19 wave in this age group,” they noted.

For acute coronary syndrome, “the increase across the full year from 2019 and 2020 (significant relative increase of 15.8% ) was followed by an even a larger increase in the January to May period from 2020 to 2021 (significant relative increase of 26.0%), which was during the third COVID-19 wave and vaccination rollout,” they reported.

While both genders in the 16–39 age group experienced increases in cardiac arrest and acute coronary syndrome calls from 2020 to 2021 for January–May, the increase was more marked for women.

“Among males, CA calls increased by 25.0%, and ACS calls increased significantly by 21.3% (P < 0.01). Among females, CA calls increased by 31.4%, and ACS calls instead significantly by 40.8%,” they found.

The paper said the results underscored “the need for the thorough investigation of the apparent association between COVID-19 vaccine administration and adverse cardiovascular outcomes among young adults.”

But they cautioned that it was “important to note the main limitation of this study, which is that it relies on aggregated data that do not include specific information regarding the affected patients, including hospital outcomes, underlying comorbidities as well as vaccination and COVID-19

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