Israel’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday it had found that a small number of cases of carditis observed mainly in young people who received the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioN Tech in Israel were likely to be related to the vaccination.
Pfizer said it has not observed a higher rate of the condition, known as myocarditis, than would normally be expected in the general population.
In Israel, 275 cases of myocarditis were reported between December 2020 and May 2021 among more than five million people who had been vaccinated, the ministry said in revealing the results of a study tasked with examining the matter.
Most patients who had a heart infection spend no more than four days in the hospital, and 95 percent of the cases were classified as mild, according to the study, which the ministry said was conducted by three teams of experts.
The study found that “there is a possible link between receiving the second dose (of the Pfizer vaccine) and the onset of myocarditis in men aged 16 to 30 years.”
According to the results, this association was observed more among men aged 16-19 years than in other age groups.
Pfizer says causal link is not established
Pfizer said in a statement that it was aware of Israeli observations of myocarditis, noting that there was no causal link to its vaccine.
Adverse events are carefully reviewed and Pfizer regularly meets with the Israel Ministry of Health’s Vaccine Safety Department to review the data.
Israel had halted making its residents aged 12 to 15 eligible for vaccinations, pending a Health Ministry report. In parallel with the publication of those results, a ministerial committee approved the vaccination of adolescents, a senior official said.
“The committee has given the green light to vaccinate children between 12 and 15 years old, and this will be possible as of next week,” Nahman Asch, the epidemiological response coordinator in Israel told Radio 103 FM. “The effectiveness of the vaccine outweighs the risks.”
The Canadian government agrees that the benefits outweigh the risks
In an email to CBC News on Wednesday, Public Health Canada and Health Canada said they were monitoring international reports of myocarditis, but that “the benefits of vaccines allowed in Canada still outweigh the risks.”
In addition, PHAC and Health Canada said that based on local reports, “Canada does not see higher rates [of myocarditis] than what would be expected in the general population (outside the context of a vaccine).”
“Health Canada, PHAC, provincial and provincial health authorities are aware of these cases and will continue to monitor closely.”
An advisory group for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month recommended further study of a possible link between myocarditis and mRNA vaccines, which include Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s surveillance systems have not found more cases than expected in the population, but the advisory group said in a statement that members felt the need to report reports of a “potential adverse event” to health care providers.
Israel has been a world leader in launching vaccination.
With COVID-19 infections dropping to just a handful per day and total active cases at just 340 across the country, the economy has fully reopened, although restrictions on inbound tourism remain.
As of Tuesday, restrictions on social distancing and the need for special green vaccination cards to enter certain restaurants and venues have been lifted.