Vaccine and infection myocarditis risks contrasted

Jolyon Attwooll

25/10/2022 2:51:30 PM

A new Immunisation Coalition chart illustrates the much higher myocarditis risks following COVID-19 infection compared to vaccination.

Myocarditis risk chart
The chart includes the relative risks broken down by age and gender. (Image: supplied)

A new chart compiled by the Immunisation Coalition highlights the significantly higher myocarditis risks linked to COVID-19 when compared to mRNA vaccination.
The resource breaks down the data according to age, gender and vaccination status.
Associate Professor John Litt, a GP and member of the Immunisation Coalition Scientific Advisory Committee, said the chart is a clear illustration of the relative risks.
‘In all age categories, as you can see from the table, the rate of getting myocarditis post COVID is far higher,’ he told newsGP.
According to the chart, the highest rate of post-vaccination myocarditis occurs among male 12–17-year-olds following a second or third dose of Moderna, with 236 cases per million doses. That is less than a half of the 590 cases per million recorded post COVID-19 infection in the same age group.
Associate Professor Litt also points out that fatality rates are higher following myocarditis linked to COVID-19 infection.
‘The risk of dying from myocarditis post COVID is 10–100 times more than dying from myocarditis after a COVID vaccine,’ he said.
‘Almost all of the people who’ve had myocarditis post vaccine have recovered.’
The chart is the most recent resource to be added to the COVID-19 Risk Calculator (CoRiCal), which was developed by the Immunisation Coalition last year. It is designed to help people assess the risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19 based on their age, gender, community transmission rates and vaccination status.
Associate Professor Litt hopes the resource will be helpful to GPs and the general public looking for a clearer picture of the relative risks.
‘We wanted to make the contrast because people are fixating on the vaccine risks [of myocarditis],’ he said.
The authors of the chart warn that ‘causality is not certain’ and that the figures do not take into account individual risk factors.
The first and so far only fatality linked to an mRNA vaccine in Australia was reported last month, with a woman in her 20s dying several weeks after receiving a Moderna booster dose.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said the Vaccine Safety Investigation Group panel ‘agreed that this woman’s myocarditis was likely to have been related to vaccination’.
‘As myocarditis is more commonly seen in males aged 12–30 years after a second vaccine dose, the expert panel noted there may be less awareness in the community that myocarditis can also occur in women and after a booster vaccine dose,’ the TGA reported.
‘This highlights the importance of informing patients, whether male or female, about the risk of myocarditis before receiving a vaccine dose and ensuring health professionals consider the possibility of myocarditis when patients present with new symptoms following vaccination.’
The panel recommended warnings about myocarditis be strengthened in Product Information for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
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