“Vaccine-Induced Myocarditis Concerns Demand Respect”

Dr. John Mandrola, a cardiologist and founder of the monetized misinformation blog Sensible Medicine, recently promoted an article titled “They Suffered Myocarditis After Covid-19 Vaccination Years Later Some Still Haven’t Recovered“. The article shared several sad stories of people affected by vaccine-myocarditis. As described by its author:

  • One military member recalled being pressured by commanders and his mother to get a vaccine. He still feels chest pain to this day.
  • A professional biker who experienced heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccination must monitor his heart rate levels to make sure he doesn’t tax his heart too much.
  • An American doctor received a vaccine in January 2021, shortly after they were cleared. He still experiences pain.
  • A young boy who suffered myocarditis at 14 has resumed exercise, but his mother still worries.
  • Another boy, who was 9 when he suffered the inflammation, “still has periods when his heart hurts,” his mother told us.

The article was not published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, but rather The Epoch Times. According to its Wikipedia page:

The Epoch Times is a far-right international multi-language newspaper and media company affiliated with the Falun Gong new religious movement.

A section titled “COVID-19 Coverage and Misinformation” begins:

The Epoch Times has spread misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic in print and via social media including Facebook and YouTube. In 2022, Raquel Miguel of the European watchdog EU DisinfoLab said, “The Epoch Times has played a noticeable role in transmitting and amplifying many anti-vaccine narratives”.

While anecdotes shared by anti-vaccine misinformation websites should always be approached with great skepticism and never amplified by responsible doctors, in this case they are entirely plausible. While most people with vaccine-myocarditis recover, some have persistent symptoms. The vaccine harmed them, and they deserve sympathy. There have even been a small number of deaths outside of the US. I am unaware of the mRNA vaccines causing any definite deaths in the US, but I suspect the number isn’t zero.

For these reasons, Dr. Mandrola has consistently worried that people are minimizing this side-effect. He’s authored an article titled Vaccine-Induced Myocarditis Concerns Demand Respect, Not Absolutism. “Humans have only one heart; inflaming it at a young age is not a small thing”, he wrote, about the vaccine. Dr. Mandrola expressed similar concern on social media many times. Although the doctors who’ve treated these patients and published their findings universally find “the vast majority of cases to be clinically mild”, Dr. Mandrola feels they are wrong about their own patients. Though he is seemingly unperturbed by anything the virus can do to the heart – “even in the sickest of the sick, Covid-19’s effect on the heart appears to be modest” – when the vaccine is to blame, he rejects the entire concept of “mild myocarditis”.

Fair enough. I wouldn’t call it “mild” had my son been hospitalized after the vaccine, and I’d still be worried, even if he recovered “quickly” as nearly all teens do.

With the vaccine, there’s no such thing as mild myocarditis

“No, Young Adults Should Not Live in Fear from Coronavirus”

With that in mind, let’s revisit a study titled “All-Cause Excess Mortality and COVID-19–Related Mortality Among US Adults Aged 25-44 Years, March-July 2020“, which was published on December 6th, 2020. It found that 4,535 COVID deaths were recorded among young adults during the pandemic’s first 5-months.

Some people felt 4,535 was a concerning number of young people to have died from COVID in such a short time, especially considering there had been just 4.49 million confirmed cases of COVID by the end of July 2020. One article from January 10, 2021 titled “COVID-19 Has Killed Thousands of Young Americans. This is Not Just a Tragedy For the Elderly” reported on two families whose 21-year-old sons died of COVID. The families described “how quickly and severely the young men got sick”. “He wrapped his arms around me and he died in my arms,” the mother of one victim said. “He was a perfectly healthy, 21-year-old college athlete who did all the things he should to stay healthy and it took him down,” said the father of the other victim.

“No, Young Adults Should Not Live in Fear from Coronavirus”

Others were less concerned by thousands of deceased young people. Indeed, Dr. Mandrola had reassuring thoughts on these 4,535 young adults, killed by COVID in the prime of their life. Along with a fellow “medical conservative” Dr. Andrew Foy, he authored an essay on December 29th, 2020 titled “No, Young Adults Should Not Live in Fear from Coronavirus“. It encouraged its readers to focus on the tens of millions of young adults who hadn’t died of COVID, while ignoring the fact that tens of millions of young adults had yet to contract COVID. The authors were very concerned that young people might overestimate their risk of COVID and try too hard to avoid it. They wrote:

We offer four reasons why this study and OpEd do not support the claim that young adults should live in fear from the virus…

An excess of 12,000 deaths sounds bad, but Professor Don Boudreaux, from George Mason University, has noted that there are nearly 88 million people in this age group. Thus, the individual risk for a person this age is found by dividing 4,560 (the number dead from COVID19 in this study) by 88 million. This equates to a 0.0052% risk of dying from COVID19.

Their article concluded that:

The young have many reasons- ethical and moral–to adhere to social distancing during the pandemic. Fear of death is not one of them.

Drs. Mandrola and Foy did not discuss adverse COVID outcomes other than death. 16-year-old Kitty McFarland described her experience with Long Covid by saying, “You go through so many phases of up and down, it’s like being on a rollercoaster forever.” Al Brown, a young, healthy father, needed a heart transplant after his bout with COVID. Candice Davis, an unvaccinated 30-year-old, lost three of her limbs and half of her foot. That someone could survive COVID, but be seriously injured by it, did not factor into their advice that young people should face the virus without fear.

However, despite knowing that COVID killed 4,535 young adults in just 5 months and that only a relatively small percentage had been infected, Drs. Mandrola and Foy told them their “fear of death” was misplaced. Moreover, they chose to convey this incautious message at perhaps the most pivotal point in the pandemic. There was good news. Vaccination campaigns had begun just 2-weeks prior. There was bad news. 2,438 Americans died on the day it was published, and the peak of the deadliest wave came less than 3-weeks later, when over 3,000 Americans would die daily. When it finally subsided in the spring of 2021, Dr. Mandrola again reminded his audience, “Young have almost no risk“. He was speaking about the virus, of course, not the vaccine.

The Delta and Omicron variants arrived within a year, and approximately 40,000 young adults age 25-44 have now died of COVID. Countless others survived, but were gravely injured. There would have been many fewer such tragedies had young adults lived with a bit more fear of the virus and a bit less fear of the vaccine.

“Nobody Should Go Through This. He Was Only 36 and I’m 35 and We Have Three Kids.”

So let’s be clear what’s happening here. The same doctor who told young people not to fear literal death after COVID killed 4,535 young adults in 5-months with drastic mitigation measures in place, is now sharing a handful of (plausible) stories from an anti-vaccine misinformation page to again scare people about the COVID vaccine. It’s “don’t minimize myocarditis from the vaccine” by the author of “don’t fear literal death from COVID“.

While the professional biker who must monitor his heart rate levels to make sure he doesn’t tax his heart too much deserves sympathy, is he really worse off than Faith Voss-Paulson, a 40-year-old mother of four who died of COVID after refusing her daughter’s pleas to get vaccinated? I don’t think so. To paraphrase Dr. Mandrola:

Humans have only one life; losing it at a young age is not a small thing. Mild death only occurs in other folks’ kids.

To add to the absurdity, while nearly 40,000 young adults died of COVID, not nearly that many developed vaccine-myocarditis. 1 in 2,200 young adults has died of COVID, which is higher than the rate of vaccine-myocarditis, a condition that usually resolves.

Respect the thing that won’t kill you. Don’t fear the thing that might.

The Epoch Times shared anecdotes, knowing that emotional stories are often more powerful than data. I also often remind my readers about the real-world consequences of misinformation. A news story titled “Though Young and Healthy, Unvaccinated Father Dies of COVID” explains why I believe death is worse than vaccine-myocarditis. It said:

Healthy and in their 30s, Christina and Josh Tidmore figured they were low-risk for COVID-19. With conflicting viewpoints about whether to get vaccinated against the virus filling their social media feeds and social circles, they decided to wait.

On July 20, Josh came home from work with a slight cough initially thought to be sinus trouble. On Aug. 11, he died of COVID-19 at a north Alabama hospital as Christina Tidmore witnessed a doctor and her team frantically try to resuscitate her husband.

“She would say, ‘I need a pulse. ‘I would hear, ‘no pulse,’ “Christina Tidmore said through tears. “They were trying so hard.”

According to his widow, “Josh was completely healthy, active, not a smoker.” She added, “Nobody should go through this. He was only 36 and I’m 35 and we have three kids.”

Josh would almost certainly be alive today had he been vaccinated. Unfortunately, many prominent doctors used their platform and credentials to falsely pacify him about the virus that killed him, instead of providing him accurate information about the vaccine that could have saved him. Neither Dr. Mandrola nor The Epoch Times ever had anything to say about Josh or any of the other thousands of dead young adults who chose not to live in fear of COVID and died as a result.

Maybe Dr. Mandrola is right, and at least when the vaccine is the cause, there is no such thing as mild myocarditis. However, there’s certainly no such thing as mild death. And the many doctors who repeatedly told young people not to fear literal death from COVID, should be ignominiously ignored when they sanctimoniously scold us for supposed minimizing something that is milder and less frequent than say, literal death. This includes vaccine-myocarditis, and anything else that is less impactful than 40,000 young lives lost to COVID and countless more seriously injured by it.

Part 2 is coming up.

Posted by Jonathan Howard

Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19. He is the author of "We Want Them Infected: How the failed quest for herd immunity led doctors to embrace the anti-vaccine movement and blinded Americans to the threat of COVID."