KEY POINTS

  • A study found a probable link between Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine and heart inflammation in men under 30
  • Health officials in Israel recorded 275 cases of myocarditis in young men who received the vaccine
  • Half of the total cases involved men with pre-existing medical conditions

Israeli health officials on Tuesday said they found a probable link between Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine and heart inflammation cases in young men who received their jab.

Israel’s Health Ministry has recorded at least 275 cases of myocarditis among men under the age of 30 across the country from December 2020 through May 2021. Heart inflammation was observed to be more prominent among men aged 16 to 19. 

Approximately 148 of those who had heart inflammation had just received a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Of the 275 cases, 27 occurred following the first dose and 121 happened after the second shot. At least half of the total cases were men with pre-existing medical conditions, Bloomberg reported.

Health officials noted that 95% of the cases were mild. Patients who experienced myocarditis also spent less than five days in the hospital.

Three teams of experts who performed a study on the correlation between the coronavirus vaccine and heart inflammation found that the cases happened less often as the age of the recipient increased, The Times Of Israel noted.

Pfizer said there was still no indication that their COVID-19 vaccine caused heart inflammation among its recipients. 

BioNTech, the German pharmaceutical that worked with Pfizer to develop the vaccine, said the “benefit-risk profile” of the shots remained positive.

“A careful assessment of the reports is ongoing and it has not been concluded,” the company said, noted Bloomberg. “Adverse events, including myocarditis and pericarditis, are being regularly and thoroughly reviewed by the companies as well as by regulatory authorities.”

Israel’s Health Ministry also said that it will expand access to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 to 16 despite the possible link. 

"The committee gave the green light for vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds, and this will be possible as of next week," said Nachman Ash, Israel's pandemic-response coordinator. "The efficacy of the vaccine outweighs the risk."

Israel had recently lifted a series of COVID-19 restrictions imposed last year as their number of infections continues to fall. Israelis can now enter public venues without presenting proof of vaccination or recovery. Capacity limits at stores and restaurants were also lifted. 

Despite the lifting of the bans, Israelis are still required to wear masks indoors. Unvaccinated people entering the country are also required to observe quarantine. 

A man is inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine in Uruguay, which is the country with the highest relative rate of Covid deaths in the last 14 days A man is inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine in Uruguay, which is the country with the highest relative rate of Covid deaths in the last 14 days Photo: AFP / Eitan ABRAMOVICH