GENEVA, Switzerland – The World Health Organization said Friday that there was a “likely causal link” between coronavirus vaccines using mRNA technology and “very rare” heart infections, but the benefits still outweigh the risks.
The UN’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) said cases of myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle – and pericarditis – inflammation of the lining around the heart – had been reported in several countries, particularly the United States.
“The reported cases have typically occurred within days of vaccination, more often among younger men and more often after the second dose of COVID-1
After reviewing available data, the GACVS assessed that “current evidence suggests a probable causal link between myocarditis and the mRNA vaccines.”
Nevertheless, the benefits of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines outweigh the risks of reducing hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 infections, it added, noting that the inflammation is “very rare.”
Most cases of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccinations were “mild” and required only “conservative” treatment, the committee said, although it observes the possible long-term effects.
U.S. medical authorities warned last month that there was a likely link between mRNA vaccines – such as Pfizer and Moderna – and cases of myocarditis among younger recipients, while also saying the benefits still outweigh the risks.
The WHO said the European Medicines Agency’s pharmacovigilance committee, which tracks the side effects of medicines, had also seen a “likely causal link” in a review of the data this week.
Myocarditis is a rare disease that experts believe is usually triggered by a virus.
Most patients experience chest pain, and it is often treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and – if necessary – additional oxygen.
Israel was the first country to report myocarditis among vaccine recipients in its rapid rollout of mRNA shoots.