A healthcare employee holds syringes with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in opposition to the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) at a vaccination centre, in El Paso, Texas, Might 6, 2021.
Jose Luis Gonzalez | Reuters
Finland and Sweden are limiting the usage of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in younger folks over considerations round uncommon cardiovascular unwanted side effects.
Finland’s nationwide well being authority, THL, introduced Thursday that it could pause the usage of Moderna’s Covid vaccine in younger males. All males aged 30 or youthful can be provided the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as an alternative, THL mentioned.
The choice by THL adopted an announcement from its Swedish counterpart on Wednesday that it could be limiting the usage of the Moderna vaccine in comparable demographics.
In Sweden, the usage of the vaccine can be stopped in folks born in 1991 or later.
What is the challenge?
The choice the 2 international locations have made to restrict the usage of the Moderna vaccine facilities round considerations it may very well be linked to instances of myocarditis, a situation the place the guts muscle turns into infected. Each well being authorities cited an unpublished Nordic research which had been despatched to the European Medicines Company for evaluation, in line with Reuters.
Generally, folks with myocarditis get well with none issues, however in some uncommon and extra extreme instances, there might be injury to the guts.
Myocarditis was most probably to develop in youthful males and boys after receiving their second dose of the Moderna vaccine, in line with Finland’s THL.
Talking at a coronavirus news briefing Thursday, Mika Salminen, director of health security at THL, said the possible risks posed by the Moderna vaccine seemed to be higher for younger male individuals.
“THL’s instructions are that the Moderna vaccine should not be given to men and boys under the age of 30 for the time being, but that the Pfizer vaccine should be used instead,” he said, according to local media reports.
Finland offers Covid-19 vaccinations to everyone over the age of 12. Of the population eligible for vaccination in Finland, 84% have received their first dose and 72% have received two doses.
Sweden’s health body, meanwhile, said data suggested that instances of myocarditis and pericarditis — an inflammation of the outer lining of the heart — were higher among young people who had been immunized, Reuters reported Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Moderna was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC. The company told Reuters that these are “typically mild cases and individuals tend to recover within a short time following standard treatment and rest.”
“The risk of myocarditis is substantially increased for those who contract COVID-19, and vaccination is the best way to protect against this,” the spokesperson added.
Benefits vs. risks
Despite the risks associated with the immunization for young men, THL’s Salminen said Thursday that it was still important for everyone who was eligible to receive two doses of a vaccine.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the known risks of Covid-19 and its potentially severe complications far outweigh the possibility of having a rare adverse reaction to a vaccination. That includes the potential risk of developing myocarditis.
In August, a U.S. study found that males between the ages of 12 and 17 — the demographic most likely to develop myocarditis — were six times more likely to suffer heart inflammation from being infected with Covid-19 than from being vaccinated against the virus.
After a second dose of a vaccine, there were 67 cases of myocarditis per million males in that age group. After contracting the coronavirus, the rate of myocarditis in that age group shot up to 450 cases per million, the study found.
Meanwhile, research from Imperial College London in March found that half of patients hospitalized with severe cases of Covid were left with damage to their hearts.
According to the U.S. CDC, most cases of post-vaccination myocarditis occur after a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine in male adolescents and young adults. Symptoms — which include pain or tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and heart palpitations — usually occur within days of vaccination.
A statement from the Danish Health Authority on Wednesday suggested it was also pausing the use of the Moderna shot in everyone under the age of 18.
However, Denmark’s health body clarified on Friday that it would in fact continue to administer the Moderna shot to under-18s, telling Reuters that it had miscommunicated its intent for the vaccine in young people.
The organization had earlier given Reuters a statement that suggested it would stop using Moderna’s vaccine in adolescents as a precautionary step.
It later told the news agency it had “communicated badly” and “bad wording” had incorrectly implied it would halt the use of the shot.
“The Danish recommendations have not been changed,” the Danish Health Agency said, according to Reuters. “The Danish Health Agency continues to assess that both Covid-19 vaccines, both the one from Pfizer/BioNTech and the one from Moderna, are highly effective vaccines that have an important place in the general vaccination program in Denmark.”
Correction: This story has been changed to add the updated information from the Danish Health Authority.