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Jabs 'study': Science takes backseat; glamour, glitz serves as fast food for imagination

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*

Indian media continue to defend the Covid jabs at all costs jumping to conclusions from sloppy studies perhaps with an eye on the release of a movie on the Pandemic titled "The Vaccine War" science seems to be venturing into the glamorous Bollywood arena! Serious science can take a backseat! Glamour and glitz can serve as the fast food for the public imagination.
“Covid vax doesn’t raise risk of heart attacks: Study,” reads the headline in one of India’s leading newspapers. It is such a reassuring message. Majority of Indians has taken the vaccine and reports of sudden deaths particularly in the young and healthy are disturbing. Given the importance and seriousness of the concerns surrounding the vaccines, the study deserves close examination.
Let us break down the original study in simple words for the lay person to understand the gist; i.e. the scope, who were studied, what was studied, what the main findings were and how well it should reassure us of the safety of the jabs?
The title of the study which defines the scope reads, “Impact of Covid-19 vaccination on mortality after acute myocardial infarction.” The participants were 1578 patients of both genders aged 18 years and older. The median age of the patients was 55 years. Only 145 (9.1%) patients were in the age bracket 18-39 years. 
The patients were admitted with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) who had ST elevation (a particular ECG feature). AMI without ST elevation and patients with other heart conditions were not included in the study.
Around 68% patients were vaccinated and 31% were unvaccinated. Data were collected retrospectively. Mortality from all causes was studied at one month and six months of follow up. The authors found that those who were vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine had lower mortality at one month and six months of follow up. They conclude that among AMI patients Covid-19 vaccine decreased mortality at 30 days and 6 months of follow up.
So strictly speaking the findings of the study can be generalized to hospitalized people of acute myocardial infarction with ST elevation. Moreover the median age was around 55 years and very few people in the age bracket 18-39 years were studied, the subset of concern in the context of global trends of sudden deaths in this group.
Other biases also enter in the picture in such hospital based studies in tertiary care centers. In the context of sudden deaths among young people the phenomenon of survival bias will fail to capture these cases that die before they reach the hospital, as only those who survive reach the hospital and likely get included in such studies.
Particularly cases of myocarditis leading to sudden death due to ventricular fibrillation in the young will be missed by such studies. Myocarditis do not cause ST elevation and the study excluded any heart ailment without this feature in the ECG.
Studies from around the globe have established myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle) an adverse event particularly in young males. Without investigating this aspect thoroughly such blanket statements of safety and efficacy of the vaccines can mislead serious researchers. At stake would be young lives.
Another type of bias that can impact the accuracy of the findings is the “healthy vaccine recipient” effect. Those sicker than others may have missed out on the vaccine due to poor health and compared to the vaccinated may have had poorer health adversely affecting their survival.
An interesting feature which the authors of the study did not report is that the young age people between 18 to 39 years had the highest rate of vaccination at 77.2% (112/145); followed by 40-64 years age group at 70.04% (760/1085) and those above 65 years who had the highest risk from Covid-19 had the lowest vaccination cover at 61.4% (214/348). It seems that necessity prevailed over science as the young may have had to take the vaccine for work and education.
Most of us have a skin in the game, as majority of Indians have been vaccinated. Denial is a psychological defense mechanism and such headlines are just what the doctor ordered (pun intended). Many would not read beyond the headlines. But human lives, particularly young lives are precious.
Giving clean chit like 'Covid vax doesn’t raise risk of heart attacks' is irresponsible, misleading
Science demands a detached view, free from emotions and denial of harm even if it concerns us. It is a tall order for the average human. What is done cannot be undone. Once jabbed you cannot be un-jabbed. In this context it is understandable for all to seek reassurance in comforting headlines and mesmerizing movies. But science demands unflinching integrity and robustness not sloppy reassuring studies and engrossing movies glossing over the misses and mishaps which is the lot of real science.
There are reports of increase in sudden deaths globally, including India, since early 2021. Edward Dowd in his book, “Cause Unknown: The Epidemic of Sudden Death in 2021 and 2022,” reports 84% rise in sudden deaths in the age group 25 to 44 years in USA coinciding with mass vaccine mandates.
This rise in fatalities was corroborated by figures of insurance claims. The time correlation with rollout of Covid-19 jabs and risk of sudden deaths is unmistakable in the worldwide data. While correlation does not mean causation, it should be taken as a red signal to be objectively investigated.
It is obvious that this particular study has not addressed this pressing concern of sudden deaths in the young. Giving a clean chit with the headline, “Covid vax doesn’t raise risk of heart attacks: Study” is irresponsible and misleading.
Let us hope that researchers and the media take their jobs seriously and do not over- interpret studies which did not address the main concerns of sudden deaths in the young. History has proved time and again that truth in science prevails in the long run and posterity will not judge us kindly, if we miss true association between the jabs and death in the young. We all would be only too happy if there is no association. But that has to come from methodically sound studies.
*Epidemiologist, presently Professor in a Medical College at Pune. He had served as an epidemiologist in the armed forces for over two decades. He has written the book, Covid-19 Pandemic: A Third Eye



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