Risk of Myocarditis from COVID-19 Infection in People Under Age 20: A Population-Based Analysis

medRxiv. 2022 Mar 21;2021.07.23.21260998. doi: 10.1101/2021.07.23.21260998. Preprint


Background: There have been recent reports of myocarditis (including myocarditis, pericarditis or myopericarditis) as a side-effect of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in young males. Less information is available regarding the risk of myocarditis from COVID-19 infection itself. Such data would be helpful in developing a complete risk-benefit analysis for this population.

Methods: A de-identified, limited data set was created from the TriNetX Research Network, aggregating electronic health records from 48 mostly large U.S. Healthcare Organizations (HCOs). Inclusion criteria were a first COVID-19 diagnosis during the April 1, 2020 - March 31, 2021 time period, with an outpatient visit 1 month to 2 years before, and another 6 months to 2 years before that. Analysis was stratified by sex and age (12-17, 12-15, 16-19). Patients were excluded for any prior cardiovascular condition. Primary outcome was an encounter diagnosis of myocarditis within 90 days following the index date. Rates of COVID-19 cases and myocarditis not identified in the system were estimated and the results adjusted accordingly. Wilson score intervals were used for 95% confidence intervals due to the very low probability outcome.

Results: For the 12-17-year-old male cohort, 6/6,846 (0.09%) patients developed myocarditis overall, with an adjusted rate per million of 450 cases (Wilson score interval 206 - 982). For the 12-15 and 16-19 male age groups, the adjusted rates per million were 601 (257 - 1,406) and 561 (240 - 1,313).For 12-17-year-old females, there were 3 (0.04%) cases of myocarditis of 7,361 patients. The adjusted rate was 213 (73 - 627) per million cases. For the 12-15- and 16-19-year-old female cohorts the adjusted rates per million cases were 235 (64 - 857) and 708 (359 - 1,397).The outcomes occurred either within 5 days (40.0%) or from 19-82 days (60.0%).

Conclusions: Myocarditis (or pericarditis or myopericarditis) from primary COVID19 infection occurred at a rate as high as 450 per million in young males. Young males infected with the virus are up 6 times more likely to develop myocarditis as those who have received the vaccine.

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