Unvaccinated have 4-8x chance of getting myocarditis from COVID-19 — expert

A local vaccine expert on Wednesday said that people who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 have 4x to 8x higher risk of getting myocarditis from a COVID-19 infection as compared to those who are vaccinated.

At a virtual forum by the Department of Health (DOH), Dr. Maria Wilda Silva of the Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) said myocarditis is “an inflammation of the heart muscle and this can happen after a viral infection like COVID-19.”

She added that potential causes of myocarditis also include viruses, bacteria, and even parasites and fungi.

“If you are unvaccinated, [you have] 4x to 8x higher risk of myocarditis from COVID-19 infection in all ages. So, that’s 10x higher risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 infection,” Silva said, emphasizing that people who get myocarditis from COVID-19 can be “very severe.”

“Because of this inflammation, dito sa pamamaga ng [the inflammation of] heart muscles, then the heart’s ability to pump is reduced,” she added.

However, Silva noted that it is “very rare” to suffer from this heart inflammation after receiving the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines such as Pfizer.

If one has COVID-19 vaccine, then the overall risk of myocarditis is “extremely low” which is about 1 in 200,000 population, she explained.

Young males aged 12 to 29 then have a “slightly higher risk” but are still “very low” which is 1 in 14,000 population, while young females aged 12 to 29 have a “much lower risk” of less than 1 in 100,000 people.

Silva, however, also cited a study showing that outside of clinical trials, myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported following administration of Pfizer vaccine.

She said that a postmarketing data observed that the risk is highest in males 12 to 17 years old.

Meanwhile, within clinical trials, the adverse reactions found in children aged 5 to 11 after the administration of the primary series only include pain at the injection site, fatigue, fever, and rashes, among others.

In ages 12 and older, the adverse effects reported were severe allergic and hypersensitivity reactions, diarrhea, and vomiting, among others.

Silva then assured that most people with myocarditis following vaccination “recover completely” with rest and apt treatment.

“COVID-19 is one of the possible causes of myocarditis in the general population and if you do not get COVID-19 infection dahil nabakunahan ka na [because you are already vaccinated], then this will reduce your chance of developing myocarditis,” she said

“The overall message here is that don’t miss your shot, your heart is safer with COVID-19 vaccines,” she added.

At least 61.6 million Filipinos are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The government is eyeing to fully vaccinate 77 million Filipinos against COVID-19 by the end of March, and 90 million by the time President Rodrigo Duterte steps down from office on June 30.

On Tuesday, the Philippines logged the lowest daily COVID-19 tally this year with 2,010 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the nationwide cases to 3,641,940. — RSJ, GMA News

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