New global study links COVID vaccines to slightly increased risk of heart problems

A global study has connected those who received COVID vaccines to an increased risk of some serious medical conditions, but one Loudoun County, Virginia, doctor says there’s more to consider here.

The study published by the Global COVID Vaccine Safety (GCoVS) Project looked at around 100 million people who were given COVID vaccines around the world and the number of certain medical conditions reported before and after those vaccinations.

Depending on the region of the world, different increases in medical conditions were noted in those taking a variety of vaccines.

The most noted increases in conditions of those vaccinated in the United States were of cardiovascular conditions in those who had taken mRNA shots by Pfizer and Moderna. Those conditions included inflammation of the heart muscle and of the thin sac covering the heart

But Dr. David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department, said while all vaccines come with some risk of adverse reaction, in this case, all of the increases may not be because of the vaccinations.

“COVID itself can cause the same infection,” said Goodfriend. “It’s hard to know if it’s the vaccine that’s resulting in an increased level of this, or it was just that we were having COVID.”

Goodfriend said studies have also consistently shown the benefits of the COVID vaccines are higher than the potential risks.

“I keep getting a COVID booster,” he said, “My family members get COVID boosters, because I think the risk of the infection by far outweighs any risk of the vaccine.”

But he said it will take years for all the research data to come in. Because the COVID-19 vaccine was developed during a pandemic, the process was different from normal vaccine development.

Usually, when a vaccine is developed, there are years of clinical tests, and the recommended usage is altered as new information is learned during those trials.

In this case, while there were short clinical trials, the entire populace is essentially part of the extended study and there already been cases where the administration of a vaccine was altered to adjust to reactions being noted.

“In real time, during COVID, when they started seeing an issue with one formulation of the vaccine … they put that warning out to folks and were saying, ‘Hey, we’re seeing heart conditions in young men who get this vaccine. Try to steer them away to a different product,'” he said.

Now, with billions of doses administered, the research is getting much more powerful and sensitive at picking up even very rare side effects.

Goodfriend believes that over time, research will grow and define how COVID-19 is treated, and possibly see newly formulated annual vaccines, much like we currently do for flu shots.

As for how bad COVID has been this year, Goodfriend said we know that COVID is still deadly, but it will be a few more months before we know just how many people it impacted this year.

“The good news, at least in Northern Virginia, is our hospital systems were not overwhelmed with COVID cases and we’re likely past the worst part of it for this winter,” he said.

The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which provided $10 million for the study.

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Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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