Israel flags possible link between Pfizer COVID vaccine and heart condition

·3-min read

Watch: Israel study - small link between Pfizer vaccine and myocarditis cases

Israel has said it has found a probable link between the Pfizer (PFE) coronavirus vaccine and a small number of heart inflammation cases in young men under the age of 30. 

The link was observed more among men aged 16 to 19 than in other age groups.

The country's health ministry said 275 cases of the condition, known as myocarditis, were reported between December 2020 and May 2021 among more than 5 million vaccinated people.

According to a study commissioned by Israel to examine the matter, most patients who experienced heart inflammation spent no more than four days in hospital, with 95% of the cases considered to be mild. 

"There is a probable link between receiving the second dose [of the Pfizer] vaccine and the appearance of myocarditis among men aged 16 to 30," it said. 

Meanwhile, the drugmaker, which created the vaccine in collaboration with BioNTech (BTNX) said it hadn't observed a higher rate of myocarditis than would normally be expected in the general population.

Israel, which has been leading the global vaccine rollout, has held off vaccinating eligible 12- to 15-year-olds pending the health ministry's report. 

The country has vaccinated around 55% of its population so far. On Tuesday it also scrapped measures on social distancing and the need for special green vaccination passes to enter certain restaurants and venues. 

Israel, which has been leading the global vaccine rollout, has held off vaccinating eligible 12- to 15-year-olds pending the health ministry's report. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images
Israel, which has been leading the global vaccine rollout, has held off vaccinating eligible 12- to 15-year-olds pending the health ministry's report. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

Read more: IMF, World Bank, WHO and WTO tell world leaders: spend $50bn to end COVID 

It comes after a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory group last month recommended further study of the possibility of a link between myocarditis and mRNA vaccines, which include those from Pfizer and Moderna (MRNA).

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received the green light in Europe on Friday, for 12- to 15-year-olds, making it the first jab to be approved for this age group in the bloc. 

The two-shot vaccine also received approval for adolescents in the US and Canada in May. 

Shares in Pfizer rose 0.2% in pre-market trade on Wednesday, while BioNTech fell 1%.

The news follows top international agencies representing global health and the economy calling on international leaders to finance a $50bn (£35bn) package to end the coronavirus pandemic by increasing access to vaccinations.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday made a rare and what they called "extraordinary" plea for international cooperation and investment.

“By now it has become abundantly clear there will be no broad-based recovery without an end to the health crisis," the four bodies said in a joint statement. "Access to vaccination is key to both."

Watch: Coronavirus vaccine - 65 million jabs given in the UK so far

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