CDC investigating heart problems in teenagers and young adults

CDC investigates dozens of reports of heart inflammation in teenagers and young adults about four days after their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine

  • CDC looking into reports that a small number of teens and young adults vaccinated against the coronavirus that may have experienced heart problems
  • Condition, known as myocarditis, results in an inflammation of the heart muscle which can occur following certain infections
  • Problems have been occurring four days after the second dose has been given 
  • Dozens of cases have been reported to the agency in recent week
  • It is not yet clear which vaccine might be responsible, Moderna or Pfizer 
  • The agency’s vaccine safety group was sparse in details, saying only that there were ‘relatively few’ cases and levels were similar to normal
  • Group also said that the conditions may be entirely unrelated to vaccination

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine safety group is investigating reports that a ‘small number’ of teens and young adults who have been vaccinated against coronavirus have experienced heart problems days after receiving their second jab.

The condition, known as myocarditis, results in an inflammation of the heart muscle which can occur following certain infections. 

Very little detail was provided by the safety group which stated there were ‘relatively few’ cases which may even be completely unrelated to vaccination.

Nevertheless, several dozen cases in kids and young adults have been reported after taking their second dose of one of the mRNA vaccines, which are Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. 

The CDC looking into reports that a small number of teens and young adults vaccinated against the coronavirus that may have experienced heart problems days after the second dose

The CDC is said to be reviewing the reports and is still in the early stages of examining the data before it can determine for sure whether there is a link between the vaccine and sudden heart condition.

Doctors were first alerted to the possible link between myocarditis and vaccines on May 14. The working group then reviewed the data on myocarditis on May 17.

The cases seem appear to be be occurring mainly in adolescents and young adults around four days after their second dose.

The symptoms also seemed to be affecting males more than females.  

‘Most cases appear to be mild, and follow-up of cases is ongoing,’ the vaccine safety group said. The C.D.C. strongly recommends Covid vaccines for Americans ages 12 and older. 

Guidance has been posted on its website for doctors to be on the alert for the heart symptoms which are unusual among young people.  

‘It may simply be a coincidence that some people are developing myocarditis after vaccination,’ said infectious disease specialist Dr. Celine Gounder to the New York Times. 

‘It’s more likely for something like that to happen by chance, because so many people are getting vaccinated right now.’ 

The CDC are looking to uncover more data regarding the cases in order to better understand if they are directly related to the vaccine or if they are simply a coincidence. The agency has so far not detailed the ages of the patients involved.

Doctors have attempted to stress that the side effects of getting myocarditis pale in comparison to the potential risks of catching Covid. Acute Covid itself can cause myocarditis. 

The latest figures detail how more than 3.9 million children have been infected with coronavirus with more than 16,000 hospitalized.

300 children died from Covid-19 making it once of the top 10 causes of death in children since the start of the pandemic.    

Generally, between 10 to 20 people out of 100,000 suffer from myocarditis.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been administered to those 16 and above since December. while the Food and Drug Administration has since allowed children between the ages of 12 and 15 to receive the jab

The symptoms include fatigue and chest pain alongside arrhythmias (a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat) and cardiac arrest.   

The CDC say that so far, the numbers of those reporting myocarditis is no greater than would normally be seen in young people. 

The agency’s vaccine safety group decided to communicate the information to vaccine providers out of an abundance of caution. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been administered to those 16 and above since December. while the Food and Drug Administration has since allowed children between the ages of 12 and 15 to receive the jab.

So far, more than 161 million people across the country have been vaccinated with around 4.5 million of them between the ages of 12 and 18. 

COVID-19 MAY INFLICT THE SAME DAMAGE AS A HEART ATTACK

By  Natalie Rahhal Acting Us Health Editor 

Coronavirus may leave the heart with lasting, dangerous damage, two new studies suggest. 

It’s become clear that the respiratory virus also attacks the cardiovascular system, as well as numerous other organs, including the kidneys and brain, but the new studies shed light on worrying damage to the heart itself. 

One German study found that 78 percent of patients who recovered from COVID-19 were left with structural changes to their heart, and 76 of the 100 survivors showed signs of the kind of damage a heart attack leaves. 

Arrows point out areas of the hearts of coronavirus survivors that became thicker and inflamed after infection. The study found blood markers in these survivors typically only seen after someone sufferers 

A second study, also conducted in Germany, found that more than half of people who died after contracting COVID-19 had high levels of the virus in their hearts. 

It’s not yet clear how long the damage might last, or how it might, in practice, increase survivors’ risks of heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening cardiovascular issues, but the studies may help explain why even previously healthy survivors are left weak and fatigued for weeks or months. 

Beyond that, the authors and experts equally urge that doctors may need to monitor the heart health of COVID-19 patients long after they’ve cleared the virus. 

Led by researchers at University Hospital Frankfurt in Germany, the first study examined measures of cardiac health in 100 people who had survived coronavirus infection. 

Fifty of the study participants were healthy prior to contracting coronavirus. Another 57 who were otherwise similar (in terms of age, race and gender) had risk factors for heart problems. 

The researchers could see signs of heart damage in MRIs taken of 78 out of the 100 survivors. 

Nearly as many – 76 percent – had high levels of a protein called troponin, comparable to what is seen in a person who has suffered a heart attack. 

Sixty of the participants had signs of heart inflammation, even though it had been 71 days, on average, since they’d been diagnosed with coronavirus. 

In the second study, the researchers from University Heart and Vascular Centre, in Hamburg, Germany, analyzed heart tissue from 39 people who died of after catching coronavirus. Of those 39, pneumonia from COVID-19 was listed as the cause of death for 35. 

The patients’ hearts were not quite damaged or infected enough to qualify for acute myocarditis, a severe viral infection of the heart, most had clear signs that the virus had reached their hearts. 

The scientists found virus in heart tissue taken from 24 of the coronavirus victims.  

Sixteen had high concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 in their hearts, and the scientists found signs that the virus was actively replicating itself inside the tissue up until the patients’ deaths. 

Doctors in the US have noticed a disturbing trend of heart problems in coronavirus patients. 

Even young people with no history of high blood pressure or other risk factors have suffered heart attacks and strokes at alarming rates after contracting coronavirus. 

But the effects of coronavirus upon the body have proven so disparate and widespread, often involving a domino effect of issues, it has remained hard to say if the virus is directly affecting the heart. 

With the new pair of studies, it’s starting to look a though the attacks may be more direct than previously thought. 

‘These new findings provide intriguing evidence that COVID-19 is associated with at least some component of myocardial injury, perhaps as the result of direct viral infection of the heart,’ wrote Northwestern University and UCLA cardiologists Dr Clyde Yancy andDr Gregg Fonarow in an editorial accompanying the studies in JAMA Cardiology. 

‘We see the plot thickening and we are inclined to raise a new and very evident concern that cardiomyopathy and heart failure related to COVID-19 may potentially evolve as the natural history of this infection becomes clearer.’ 

They added that if more research continues to provide similar findings, the COVID-19 pandemic could trigger a wave of heart problems down the line. 

If that happens, ‘then the crisis of COVID-19 will not abate but will instead shift to a new de novo incidence of heart failure and other chronic cardiovascular complications,’ the commentators wrote.   

New cases of COVID-19 plummet to their lowest levels since last June with almost 50 percent of U.S. population vaccinated against the virus 

New coronavirus cases across the United States have tumbled to rates not seen in more than 11 months, sparking optimism that vaccination campaigns are stemming both severe COVID-19 cases and the spread of the virus.

As cases, hospitalizations and deaths steadily dropped this week, pre-pandemic life in America has largely resumed. 

Hugs and unmasked crowds returned to the White House, a Mardi Gras-style parade marched through Alabama’s port city of Mobile, and even states that have stuck to pandemic-related restrictions readied to drop them. 

A woman dressed in period costume hands a trinket to a child during a parade dubbed ‘Tardy Gras,’ to compensate for a cancelled Mardi Gras due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in Mobile, Alabama

A bartender pours beers for fully vaccinated customers at the bar inside Risky Business in the North Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. In order to go inside members must present their original vaccination card

However, health experts also cautioned that not enough Americans have been vaccinated to completely extinguish the virus, leaving the potential for new variants that could extend the pandemic.

As the seven-day average for new cases dropped below 30,000 per day this week, Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pointed out cases have not been this low since June 18, 2020. 

The average number of deaths over the last seven days also dropped to 552 – a rate not seen since July last year. It’s a dramatic drop since the pandemic hit a devastating crescendo in January.

‘As each week passes and as we continue to see progress, these data give me hope,’ Walensky said Friday at a news conference.

People visit ‘Little Island’, a new, free public park in Hudson River Park in New York City. Masks were nowhere in sight with the requirement dropped in the state earlier this week

Scott Johnson, foreground in blue, participates in a fitness class at Lift Society in Studio City, California. The state no longer will require social distancing and will allow full capacity for businesses when the state reopens on June 15

Health experts credit an efficient rollout of vaccines for the turnaround. More than 60% of people over 18 have received at least one shot, and almost half are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. But demand for vaccines has dropped across much of the country. 

President Joe Biden’s administration is trying to convince other Americans to sign up for shots, using an upbeat message that vaccines offer a return to normal life.

White House health officials on Friday even waded into offering dating advice. 

They are teaming up with dating apps to offer a new reason to ‘swipe right’ by featuring vaccination badges on profiles and in-app bonuses for people who have gotten their shots.

Ohio, New York, Oregon and other states are enticing people to get vaccinated through lottery prizes of up to $5 million.

Fully vaccinated customers Julie Brown (C) and Kelsi Teramae (R) gather at the bar inside in Hollywood, California

Socially distanced people wait in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Providence Edwards Lifesciences vaccination site in Santa Ana, California

Across the country, venues and events reopened after shuttering for much of the last year.

On Saturday, Karen Stetz readied to welcome what she hoped would be a good crowd to the Grosse Pointe Art Fair on Michigan’s Lake St. Clair.

With natural ventilation from the lake and mask and capacity restrictions easing, Stetz was optimistic that artists who make their living traveling a show circuit that ground to a halt last year would begin to bounce back. The event usually draws from 5,000 to 10,000 people.

‘I feel like most people are ready to get out,’ Stetz said by phone shortly before opening the fair. ‘It seems like people are eager, but it’s hard to know still. I’m sure there´s a percentage of people that are going to wait until they’re comfortable.’

In Mobile, thousands of joyful revelers, many without masks, competed for plastic beads and trinkets tossed from floats Friday night as Alabama’s port city threw a Mardi Gras-style parade. But only about a quarter of the county’s population is fully vaccinated. Many went without masks, though health officials had urged personal responsibility.

The 2021 graduating class of Odessa Career & Technical Early College High School listens as the salutatorian speaks during their graduation ceremony at Odessa College Sports Center in Odessa, Texas

Alabama’s vaccination rate – 34% of people have received at least one dose – is one of the lowest in the country. It’s part of a swath of Southern states where vaccine uptake has been slow. Health experts worry that areas with low vaccination rates could give rise to new virus variants that are more resistant to vaccinations.

‘My biggest concern is new strains of the virus and the need to remain vigilant in the months ahead,’ said Boston College public health expert Dr. Philip J. Landrigan.

A medical center in Louisiana reported Friday it has identified the state’s first two cases of a COVID-19 variant that has spread widely since being identified in India.

 The COVID-19 variant has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by Britain and the World Health Organization, meaning there is some evidence that it spreads more easily between people, causes more severe disease, or might be less responsive to treatments and vaccines. 

The variant has also been reported in several other states, including Tennessee, Nebraska and Nevada.

Though Landrigan said the big drop in cases nationwide was ‘the best news we’ve had on the pandemic’ and showed that vaccines are working, he warned that people should remain vigilant for local flare-ups of new cases.

Parade-goers vie for throws during a parade dubbed ‘Tardy Gras,’ to compensate for a cancelled Mardi Gras due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in Mobile, Alabama 

Many states have largely dropped orders to wear masks and stay distanced from other people. Meanwhile, even places such as California – the first state to issue a statewide shutdown as the virus emerged in March 2020 – prepared to remove restrictions on social distancing and business capacity next month.

State health director Dr. Mark Ghaly said Friday the decision was based on dramatically lower virus cases and increased vaccinations.

But in Vermont – the state with the highest percentage of people who have received one shot – Gov. Phil Scott has tied the lifting of restrictions to the vaccination rate. He offered to lift all remaining restrictions before a July 4 deadline if 80% of those eligible get vaccinated.

Landrigan figured it will take a nationwide vaccination rate of at least 85% to snuff out the virus. But for now, the steep drop in cases gave him hope that pandemic-level infection rates will soon be a thing of the past.

‘It is getting to the point to where by the Fourth of July we might be able to declare this thing over,’ he said. 

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