Rare cases of heart inflammation in young people after receiving their second dose of Covid vaccine require further investigation, said Dr. Scott Gottlieb said CNBC on Friday.
“In this age group in particular, the risk / benefit ratio still speaks for a vaccination at this point in time,” said Pfizer board member Gottlieb in an interview on “Squawk Box.” “This has also been confirmed by the CDC and FDA.”
A day earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that a higher number of cases than forecast of heart infections in 16- to 24-year-olds after their second Covid vaccination – 275 registered incidents compared to expectations of 10 to 102
A total of 475 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis, which, according to the CDC, is inflammation of the heart muscle or the lining around it, have been reported in people under the age of 30. Men make up the vast majority of reported cases of myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination.
Of the 270 people who developed the illness and were discharged from hospital, 81% made a full recovery, according to CDC data. The remaining 19% either still have symptoms or their status is unknown. According to the CDC, 15 people are still in the hospital.
Symptoms to which Chest pain and shortness of breath, typically develop a few days after receiving the vaccine, according to the CDC.
Gottlieb said many questions remain about the link between heart inflammation and Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid vaccines.
“I think at this point you have to assume that there is a causal link between the vaccine and these observations until you can prove otherwise,” said Gottlieb, who headed the FDA in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019.
Gottlieb said what is not yet known is whether the vaccines that cause heart inflammation are special. “We know the vaccine triggers an inflammatory response. That’s why you get a fever. This is why you get pain at the injection site because it stimulates your immune system. “
“Is this a more generalized inflammatory response from the vaccine that localizes to the heart in some patients?” asked Gottlieb. “Or is that something more direct, where the vaccine itself triggers a very targeted immune response and manifests itself that way? We don’t have the answers to those questions.”
It is possible that other cases were not recorded, said Gottlieb, but “we are probably recording the most severe cases”. He added, “If you look at the number of people who have severe cases of pericarditis, these are very small numbers right now.”
According to CDC data, around 141.5 million people in the US are fully vaccinated against Covid. The vaccines have been instrumental in bringing the number of coronavirus cases in the US to the lowest level since the pandemic began.