Jose Luis Gonzalez | Reuters
The Finnish national health authority, THL, announced Thursday that it will suspend the use of Moderna’s Covid vaccine in young men. All men aged 30 or under would be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine instead, THL said.
THL’s move follows announcements by its Swedish and Danish counterparts on Wednesday that the two would restrict the use of the Moderna vaccine in similar demographics.
In Sweden, the use of the vaccine will be stopped in people born in 1991 or later, while Denmark will stop the use of the Moderna vaccine in all people under the age of 18.
What is the problem?
In most cases, people with myocarditis recover without complications, but in rare and more serious cases, the heart can be damaged.
According to the Finnish THL, myocarditis was more likely to develop in younger men and boys after receiving their second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Speaking at a coronavirus press briefing on Thursday, Mika Salminen, director of health security at THL, said the possible risks posed by the Moderna vaccine appeared to be greater for young men.
“The instructions from THL are that the Moderna vaccine should not be given to men and boys under the age of 30 at this time, but that the Pfizer vaccine should be used instead,” he said, according to local media.
The Swedish health body, meanwhile, said data suggested cases of myocarditis and pericarditis – an inflammation of the outer wall of the heart – were higher in young people who had been immunized, Reuters reported on Wednesday. .
A Moderna spokesperson was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC. The company told Reuters that these were “generally mild cases and individuals tend to recover quickly after standard treatment and rest.”
“The risk of myocarditis is greatly increased for those who contract COVID-19, and vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from it,” the spokesperson added.
Benefits vs Risks
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the known risks of Covid-19 and its potentially serious complications far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to a vaccination. This includes the possible risk of developing myocarditis.
In August, a US study found that men aged 12 to 17 – the demographic group most likely to develop myocarditis – were six times more likely to suffer from heart inflammation from being infected with Covid-19 than to be vaccinated against the virus.
Meanwhile, research from Imperial College London in March found that half of patients hospitalized with severe cases of Covid had heart damage.
According to the US CDC, most cases of post-vaccination myocarditis occur after a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine in adolescents and young adults. Symptoms, which include chest pain or tightness, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations, usually occur within days of vaccination.