New side effect added to official list for two Covid jabs

HEALTH chiefs have added a new side effect to the official list for two Covid jabs.

Heart-swelling links had been made between the Pfizer and Moderna jabs in recent weeks, after more cases were reported.

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And now the UK's drugs regulator has updated the safety information to show it is a possible side effect for both.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency says the conditions is still "extremely rare" and "typically mild".

The inflammation of the heart muscle can damage the organ over time.

Experts say the benefits of getting the jab far outweighs the risks, but it could impact the debate on vaccinating kids.

After investigating less than 100 cases in the UK, the MHRA concluded the vaccines could be the cause of swelling reports.

The conditions reported are myocarditis, which causes inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, inflammation of the lining outside the heart.

Young men are most affected, particularly after a second dose, research shows.

The MHRA said anyone who experiences "chest pain, shortness of breath or feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart" after a jab should seek urgent medical attention.

Last week Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive, said: “We have carefully reviewed reports of suspected adverse reactions involving types of heart inflammation known as myocarditis and pericarditis…

"We have concluded that the Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna may be linked with a small increase in the risk of these very rare conditions.

"The cases tended to be mild and the vast majority recovered with simple treatment and rest."

There have been incidents where people have suffered a serious reaction to their Covid jab, but this has been a very small percentage of those vaccinated.

Reacting badly to any vaccination is very rare, with any side effects usually minimal.

It comes after two new studies, published in JAMA Cardiology, have provided more evidence of the serious, but extremely rare, side effect.

One study found 23 cases of heart inflammation in the US military after they had shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna – which use the same vaccine technology called mRNA.

What are the symptoms to look out for?

Both myocarditis and pericarditis are usually caused by a viral infection, bacteria, parasite or fungi.

Covid itself can lead to heart inflammation, doctors say, sometimes lasting several months as a symptom of long Covid.

But in the JAMA study of four patients with the conditions after a jab, researchers said there was no evidence they had previously suffered Covid.

The main symptoms to look out for, according to the British Heart Foundation and the Mayo Clinic, are:

  • a stabbing pain and/or tightness in the chest which may spread across the body (myocarditis and pericarditis)
  • flu-like symptoms such as a high temperature, tiredness and fatigue (myocarditis and pericarditis)
  • fluid retention with swelling of your legs, ankles and feet (myocarditis and pericarditis)
  • shortness of breath when lightly exercising or walking (myocarditis)
  • difficulty breathing when resting (myocarditis)
  • palpitations or an abnormal heart rhythm (myocarditis)
  • a sudden shortness of breath – if you experience this get urgent medical help (pericarditis)
  • pain in the neck that may spread across the shoulders and/or arms (pericarditis)
  • nausea or feeling light headed (pericarditis)

The MHRA said anyone who experiences "chest pain, shortness of breath or feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart" after a jab should seek urgent medical attention.

Dr Matthew Oster, from the CDC's COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, said: "mRNA vaccines may be a new trigger for myocarditis, yet it does have some different characteristics.”

Difficulty sleeping may be more common, according to the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. 

The US military has given more than 2.8 million doses of vaccines, meaning if the side effect is proven, it is rarer than one in 100,000. 

Nineteen of the men had been given their second shot.

The number of cases were higher than what would have been expected – a predicted eight or fewer cases from the 436,000 male military members who received two shots.

A separate study investigated four cases of heart inflammation after a second dose of a Pfizer of Moderna jab.

All had been hospitalised suffering chest pain – a typical sign of the condition. But they were discharged without any long-lasting problems.

The researchers wrote in their paper: “It is possible that these four cases of acute myocarditis represent a rare, potential adverse event linked to mRNA Covid-19 vaccination.

“The findings from the present report raise the possibility of an association between mRNA Covid-19 vaccination and acute myocarditis.”



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