Myocarditis after Covid-19 Vaccination in a Large Health Care Organization

N Engl J Med. 2021 Oct 6. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2110737. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: Reports have suggested an association between the development of myocarditis and the receipt of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), but the frequency and severity of myocarditis after vaccination have not been extensively explored.

Methods: We searched the database of Clalit Health Services, the largest health care organization (HCO) in Israel, for diagnoses of myocarditis in patients who had received at least one dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech). The diagnosis of myocarditis was adjudicated by cardiologists using the case definition used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We abstracted the presentation, clinical course, and outcome from the patient's electronic health record. We performed a Kaplan-Meier analysis of the incidence of myocarditis up to 42 days after the first vaccine dose.

Results: Among more than 2.5 million vaccinated HCO members who were 16 years of age or older, 54 cases met the criteria for myocarditis. The estimated incidence per 100,000 persons who had received at least one dose of vaccine was 2.13 cases (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.56 to 2.70). The highest incidence of myocarditis (10.69 cases per 100,000 persons; 95% CI, 6.93 to 14.46) was reported in male patients between the ages of 16 and 29 years. A total of 76% of cases of myocarditis were described as mild and 22% as intermediate; 1 case was associated with cardiogenic shock. After a median follow-up of 83 days after the onset of myocarditis, 1 patient had been readmitted to the hospital, and 1 had died of an unknown cause after discharge. Of 14 patients who had left ventricular dysfunction on echocardiography during admission, 10 still had such dysfunction at the time of hospital discharge. Of these patients, 5 underwent subsequent testing that revealed normal heart function.

Conclusions: Among patients in a large Israeli health care system who had received at least one dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine, the estimated incidence of myocarditis was 2.13 cases per 100,000 persons; the highest incidence was among male patients between the ages of 16 and 29 years. Most cases of myocarditis were mild or moderate in severity. (Funded by the Ivan and Francesca Berkowitz Family Living Laboratory Collaboration at Harvard Medical School and Clalit Research Institute.).