Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
False and misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines and heart inflammation is being spread widely, including by doctors.
That includes claims that data clearly show myocarditis, or heart inflammation, is more prevalent after COVID-19 infection when compared to COVID-19 vaccination.
"Teen boys have been up to five times as likely to have heart inflammation after having a COVID infection than after getting vaccinated," Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in a video encouraging nearly all Americans to get one of the new COVID-19 vaccines.
A similar claim was made by Dr. Scott Rivkees, Florida's former surgeon general, to ABC.
The claims are largely based on a non-peer reviewed study from the CDC from April 2022.
"At this point it does not seem like an intellectually honest attempt to conduct a risk-benefit analysis," Allison Krug, an epidemiologist, told The Epoch Times. "I'm just dismayed that they don't seem genuinely interested in repairing the credibility with parents lost over the last two-and-a-half years."
The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.
Dr. Rivkees, presented with studies that have found people in at least some populations are at a higher risk of myocarditis after vaccination when compared to after a positive test, doubled down on his claim.
"In articles that compare risks of myocarditis from COVID vs. following vaccination ... the risk of myocarditis is greater after COVID than after vaccination," Dr. Rivkees, professor of the practice of health services, policy, and practice at Brown University, told The Epoch Times via email.
In one of the papers, English researchers found a higher risk for men under 40 who were vaccinated with Moderna's shot.
Nordic researchers also identified a higher risk for men under 40, as well as some females.
German researchers found 655 cases related to a COVID-19 vaccine, versus 77 related to COVID-19.
The CDC researchers found a higher rate of cardiac complications after a positive COVID-19 test than after COVID-19 vaccination in 40 U.S. health care systems. They did not include all COVID-19 infections.
Dr. Rivkees was quoted by ABC as countering recommendations from Florida to people under 65 to avoid new COVID-19 vaccines, which have virtually no clinical trial data behind them.
Florida's recommendations contradict the CDC, which advises nearly all Americans receive one of the new shots, but align with or are close to the recommendations from much of the rest of the world, including many European countries and Israel.
Other recent reporting on COVID-19 vaccines also includes false or misleading claims about myocarditis.
"The risk of myocarditis from the virus is far greater than the risk of myocarditis from the vaccine,” Dr. Kawsar Talaat, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told MIT Technology Review. Dr. Talaat did not provide any citations. A request for comment returned an away message.
CBS News reporter Alexander Tin wrote in an article that "research shows people are more likely to develop myocarditis from a COVID infection than from the vaccine." Mr. Tin did not link to any of the purported research and declined to comment on the record.
USA Today reporter Karen Weintraub wrote that no myocarditis cases were recorded after receipt of the bivalent vaccines, which were available from 2022 through when the new vaccines were cleared. That's false, according to the CDC presentation (pdf) to which she hyperlinked. The CDC's Vaccine Safety Datalink alone recorded two confirmed cases, including one in a young male. Ms. Weintraub did not respond to a query.
She’s an epic liar— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 26, 2023
Solid information on myocarditis and COVID-19 vaccines has been hard to come by during the pandemic, with even the CDC hiding data and making false statements about the condition.
In guidance on its website, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says that COVID-19 poses more of a risk than COVID-19 vaccination.
Officials pointed to the same CDC paper cited by vaccine proponents.
That report, published by the CDC's quasi-journal, analyzed electronic health records from 40 U.S. health care systems and counted cardiac complications following a positive COVID-19 test or COVID-19 vaccination. Then they compared the rates and claimed people were at higher risk after a positive test.
"For post COVID-myocarditis, they only included young people with an official COVID diagnosis in the health system," Dr. Tracy Beth Hoeg, an epidemiologist in California, told The Epoch Times via email.
"So not only was this a non-representative sample because these were a subset of the sickest children who were seeking medical attention but happened to also have a COVID positive test," she added. "At the same time they underestimated the total number of children infected by only including those with a health system associated positive result (so this shrinks the denominator and increases the myocarditis rate per infection)," she said.
Those choices would inflate the rate of post-COVID myocarditis cases, she said.
The researchers did include in the paper calculations for post-vaccination myocarditis as high as 360 cases per million second doses in 12- to 17-year-old males, or as high as one in 2,800 second doses.
The CDC "glossed over" those calculations, Dr. Hoeg said. "I don't know how many parents would have taken the chance on vaccination if they had known this risk of myocarditis was around 1/3,000 according to the CDC's own study, which was consistent by the way with data from Hong Kong."
Dr. Hoeg and Ms. Krug previously authored a paper that found the risk of cardiac complications to young, healthy males from COVID-19 vaccines was higher than the risk from COVID-19.
Dr. Jason Block, the CDC study's corresponding author, did not respond to a request for comment. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to an inquiry. Pfizer and Moderna have not responded to requests for comment.
Cases After Bivalent Shot
According to the Vaccine Safety Datalink data, through March 11, one case of myocarditis was detected after Pfizer vaccination and one case was detected after Moderna vaccination.
CDC officials did not present any data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Starting in mid-2021, the CDC has analyzed reports to the system and verified some of them before regularly updating reported rates.
The CDC, asked for the data, would only provide a study that covered VAERS reports lodged through Oct. 23, 2022. The study found nine reports of myocarditis or pericarditis, seven of which were verified by medical record review.
Asked for more current data, the official said the study "is the most recent publicly available data we have on the topic" and that more current data would be made available to the public "when appropriate."
An Epoch Times search of VAERS turned up 98 myocarditis, pericarditis, or myopericarditis reports following bivalent vaccination through Sept. 8. Ms. Krug counted 10 reported cases that were or appeared to be myocarditis or pericarditis among 12- to 29-year-olds.
Dr. Rivkees said the Vaccine Safety Datalink data "show that the risk of myocarditis following COVID boosters is very rare." He did not comment on the lack of VAERS data.
Dr. Walid Gellad disagreed.
Without the VAERS data, "no risk benefit can accurately be calculated for young people," Dr. Gellad, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, wrote on X.
Multiple people, including children, have died from post-vaccination myocarditis. And there's no evidence the new vaccines prevent infections, hospitalizations, or deaths in any age group. Pfizer's vaccine has no human data behind it, while Moderna's vaccine was tested on just 50 people, with no efficacy estimates presented. One of those 50 suffered a medically-attended adverse event deemed related to the shot. Moderna has not disclosed what the event was.
The CDC started the trend of mis- and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and myocarditis in early 2021, when then-Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky falsely claimed that the agency had seen no cases of the condition.
The agency also missed or ignored a safety signal for myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination.
Outside researchers have also downplayed the cases by citing how symptoms resolved quickly in many patients, while abnormalities on imaging and symptoms persisted in some. They've also made false claims about deaths from post-vaccination myocarditis.
"No deaths from myocarditis post-mRNA COVID-19 vaccination have been reported in the USA, with very rare deaths reported worldwide," U.S. researchers wrote in a review article in 2022. By then, multiple deaths had been reported in the United States alone. Dr. Stephanie Chin, the study's corresponding author, did not return a query.
In another example from late 2021, Chinese researchers falsely said, "so far, all adults and adolescents with myocarditis/pericarditis following COVID-19 vaccinations, including those reported in the current study, have been mild cases." They cited a single study from California.