A major new study has found teenage boys are more likely to suffer from vaccine side effects like heart problems than be hospitalised because of Covid-19.
Boys between 12 and 15 are 6 times more likey to suffer heart problems as a result of Covid-19 vaccination than be hospitalised after coronavirus infection, according to the study, a preprint, released Thursday. US researchers said young males are six times more likely to get vaccine-related myocarditis than end up in hospital with Covid-19.
The researchers said that children who face the highest risk of a “cardiac adverse event” are boys aged between 12 and 15 following two doses of a vaccine.
A team led by Dr Tracy Hoeg at the University of California investigated the rate of cardiac myocarditis – heart inflammation – and chest pain in children aged 12-17 following their second dose of the astra zeneca vaccine. This was then compared with the likelihood of children requiring hospitalisation due to Covid-19, at times of low, moderate and high rates of hospitalisation.
Researchers reported that the risk of heart complications for teen boys aged 12-15 following vaccination was 162.2 per million, which was the highest out of all the groups they observed. Evidence from studies show it is unlikely for boys to suffer either heart problems from the vaccine or be hospitalised by coronavirus.
The second highest rate was among boys aged 16-17 (94.0 per million) followed by girls aged 16-17 (13.4 per million) and girls aged 12-15 (13.0 per million).
Meanwhile, the risk of a healthy boy requiring hospital treatment due to Covid-19 in the next 120 days is 26.7 per million; meaning the risk they face from heart complications is 6.1 times higher than that of hospitalisation from Covid-19.
The study looked at MRNA vaccines – such as Pfizer and Moderna – which will be particularly relevant for Ireland because youngsters are not being offered the AstraZeneca jab due to the increased risk of rare blood clots.
In April, the head of vaccines at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said there was a “clear” link between the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination and reports of blood clots in certain people who have received the jab.
In June, Ireland lifted restrictions on giving AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to adults aged under 50 and reduced the recommended gap between doses from eight weeks to four. However, from 3 September, the HSE announced it will only offer the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to children aged 12 to 15.
This research is based on current rates of hospitalisations from Covid-19, which are deemed to be “moderate”. During a period of low risk of hospitalisation, such as June 2021, the likelihood of heart complications rises to 22.8 times higher, and during a period of high risk, such as January 2021, the likelihood of heart complications is still 4.3 times higher
The new study, which is yet to be peer reviewed, analysed reports of adverse effects children have suffered from the vaccine between January and June of 2021.
The findings of the new study were revealed as England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, is set to advise ministers on whether there is a wider societal benefit from vaccinating children in the United Kingdom.
Last week, Gript reported that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised the British government that they were not recommending the widespread vaccination of healthy 12 to 15-year-olds against Covid-19. They said that “the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12- to 15-year-olds at this time”.
JCVI member, Professor Adam Finn, told Sky News that ‘the latest data from paediatric cardiologists in the US shows that there are concerns about the long-term side effects of COVID-19 vaccine for children’.
JCVI member Professor Adam Finn said that the latest data from paediatric cardiologists in the US shows that there are concerns about the long-term side effects of COVID-19 vaccine for children.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 4, 2021
The JCVI advice came exactly one week on from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirming that preparations were underway to ensure the NHS was ready to offer coronavirus shots to all 12- to 15-year-olds in England from early September.
There has since been heavy speculation that ministers might defy the advice of their own official vaccine advisors to push ahead with Covid shots for healthy 12- to 15-year-olds.
The Telegraph reported that “Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has instructed Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, to look again and see whether there is a wider benefit to society from vaccinating youngsters.”
“Mr Javid said he wanted Prof Whitty and the chief medical officers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to “consider the vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds from a broader perspective”, before making a final decision, `the paper reported.
Ireland, on the other hand, has already started its vaccine roll-out for teenagers and children aged between 12 and 15. In August, thousands of Irish youngsters received their first dose in a major extension of the nation’s vaccination programme.
Around 280,000 Irish children in this age cohort have already been offered either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, with Ireland’s government expecting all second doses to be administered by the end of September.
The research published on Thursday is likely to prompt fresh concerns both here and abroad over jabs for children.
Last Friday, the JCVI could only recommend vaccines be given to 12 to 15 year olds who had major heart, lung, kidney, liver and neurological conditions. Despite JCVI advice, Ministers in the UK are understood to remain keen to give widespread vaccine roll-out the green light, and the NHS has already started recruiting thousands of vaccinators for schools in the U.K.
With Ireland having launched the vaccine for this age cohort on 14 August, around 65,000 children aged 12-15 registered in the first 24 hours of it being offered. The HSE said last month that it expects take-up to be high.
Ireland’s vaccination programme has accelerated to be one of the most successful in Europe, with more than 80% of the adult population now fully vaccinated. Take-up has been as high as 99% in some age brackets, according to the HSE.
However, some experts are unconvinced of the necessity of Ireland’s move in offering the vaccine to healthy 12-15 year olds – and this recent research is likely to add to concerns.