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The sports world is shocked because soccer players are collapsing in the middle of the game, unconscious on the verge of death (as happened with Christian Eriksen or Sergio Agüero, who were forced to pause the game due to arrhythmia—pressure in the chest or in the heart—). Rumors won’t stop. Some claim that the cases are due to side effects of COVID-19 or even vaccines. Others claim that they are consequences of other conditions and that they are just beginning to appear. What is certain is that as a result of these and other cases, a population that considers itself “anti-vaccine” prefers not to be immunized in order to avoid risks such as those mentioned above.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal striker and one of the tournament’s top stars, was sidelined following tests he underwent after contracting COVID. The striker, as well as two other athletes, showed “cardiac injuries.”
Bayern Munich left-back Alphonso Davies was sidelined from training due to an inflammation of the heart muscle after contracting coronavirus. Likewise, Adama Traoré of Sheriff Tiraspol, Victor Lindelöf of Manchester United or Piotr Zielinski of Napoli have had to withdraw from the field of play during matches due to arrhythmias, chest pain and difficulty breathing.
Some athletes have been forced to retire and abandon their careers. However, it is not clear which is to blame: the COVID-19 vaccine or the virus itself.
In addition, there are standpoints such as that of the tennis player Novak Djokovic, who flatly refuses to be vaccinated and has become an icon of those who fight for “freedom” and consider that the fact of being inoculated against COVID-19 should be an individual decision. These are dilemmas that polarize the world’s population, which has doubts about a virus that is as new as its vaccine.
To clarify these and other doubts, El American contacted health specialists in the United Kingdom and the United States who answered each question and explained the importance of vaccination and why they believe — according to their scientific knowledge — it should be done on a massive scale.
Gustavo Guida, a fellow in cardiothoracic surgery in Bristol England, and Dr. Jesus Anampa, professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and physician in the Oncology Department of the Montefiore Medical Center, answered questions which, in addition to clarifying the reason for the increase in cases of myocarditis in athletes, also explain why they consider that vaccination should be mandatory.
Cases of heart attacks, myocarditis and arrhythmias are increasing in very young athletes. What are the possible causes?
Guida explained that what is increasing are cases of cardiac arrest and myocarditis, and that both may be related to COVID-19 and the vaccine; but mostly to the disease.
“There are many studies that say that young men in their 20s and 40s are most at risk of developing myocarditis from COVID and that it happens even in people who had an asymptomatic infection,” he said.
“Is there a possibility that a high-performance athlete gets the vaccine and then gets myocarditis and ends up having a cardiac arrest? Yes, it is possible, but I think it is very rare for that to happen. Taking into account the number of soccer players in the world and that all of them have to be vaccinated, it can happen that 1 or 2 end up having a cardiac arrest, but the most probable, according to studies, is that these arrests are due to previous problems such as hypertrophy caused by the same COVID-19 after having suffered the disease before being vaccinated, or to an asymptomatic COVID infection that ends up developing myocarditis. The latter is the most common,” Guida added.
Guida said that the incidence of suffering myocarditis after vaccination ranges from 4 to 12 cases per 100,000 people: “That is 0.004% probability and most of them are mild or moderate.”
Dr. Anampa also explained that COVID-19 is not the only virus that can cause inflammation of the heart muscle, but that the risk of suffering myocarditis from COVID-19 is greater than the risk of suffering it from the vaccine.
“COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated efficacy in clinical studies and real-world setting. A study from Israel reports that the mRNA vaccine was associated with a 3.2-fold increased risk of myocarditis. So, if we do a risk-benefit analysis we see that the risk of myocarditis from COVID-19 is greater than the risk of myocarditis from the vaccine,” he explained.
In relation to cardiac arrests in athletes as happened with Eriksen, both specialists agree that most cases occur in people who are born with a heart problem that is unknown, but which is exacerbated due to the extreme physical exertion that young athletes undergo today.
“I have discussed it with specialists in sports cardiology, sports have become more demanding disciplines and with higher cardiovascular performance. Players who played 20 years ago would not be able to play today because of the level of cardiovascular reserve that players have nowadays, and unfortunately, that causes many of these athletes to develop cardiac hypertrophy that can lead to malignant arrhythmias and can end in cardiac arrest,” Guida added.
What risks or side effects, both serious and moderate, can be caused by COVID-19 vaccines?
“The risks with the vaccine are very low, but side effects are very common. The first side effect is a feeling of general malaise with swollen lymph nodes, fever at times, muscle pain and headache,” Guida explained.
“The most serious risk from vaccines is that of anaphylaxis. That means an exaggerated allergic reaction of the body and that is very infrequent. It’s less than 0.1%. That’s why they ask you to stay in the room for 5 to 10 minutes after the inoculation. That is more frequent in people who have allergies to other medications,” he added.
“In the case of the COVID vaccine in particular it has been observed that there is a risk of thrombosis which are clots inside the veins. The first vaccine where this was observed is AstraZeneca’s and that’s why they stopped vaccination at the beginning of December 2020, but then they realized that even though there was a higher risk of thrombosis, it’s still much lower than what happens when you have COVID,” Guida said.
“For example, the risk of thrombosis with AstraZeneca is 0.4%; if you take into account that the risk of thrombosis for a woman taking birth control pills goes between 1 and 4 % per year, you could say that the risk there is 10 times higher than with the COVID vaccine,” he added.
He recalled that the other adverse effect of the vaccine is myocarditis, but that the cases are very low and most of them are mild or moderate, and can be completely reversible.
Following the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine, there have been claims linking it to alleged cases of male infertility, is this true?
“There are no studies suggesting increased male or female infertility with the COVID-19 vaccine. Studies have shown that vaccinated individuals have no alteration in the likelihood of conceiving in the future,” said Anampa.
“There is no evidence that the vaccine or the disease is related to infertility,” Guida reiterated.
Even if there are side effects, is it important and necessary to be vaccinated against COVID-19? Why, if the vaccine does not prevent infection, is it being mandatory?
Dr. Guida pointed out that “yes, it is important to get vaccinated despite the side effects because the side effects are mild and transient,” and explained that “infectivity rates of the virus have continued to rise despite pharmaceutical (vaccination) and non-pharmaceutical measures such as masks, restrictions, etc. Despite the best efforts, the problem is that the more people are carrying the virus as a reservoir, the more copies of the virus are going to be circulating in the population. The more copies of the virus there are, the more chance there is of becoming infected,” he explained.
“To put a little bit of context, just getting into intensive care and needing support beyond just oxygen such as positive breathing or intubation leaves prolonged damage to a person’s cardiopulmonary capacity. That is not evident in the day-to-day life of people, but in the case of an athlete it can be more obvious,” he added.
“Now, when we talk about social risk, we should all be vaccinated because the problem is that if a percentage of the population is not vaccinated, that population behaves as a reservoir of the virus and although the vaccine is not 100% effective in preventing infection, by vaccinating everyone the disease can be eradicated, and in the end the objective has to be to eradicate the disease, or to create sufficient immunity so that the cases that do occur are only mild,” he said.
Anampa agrees with Dr. Guida: “Vaccines have shown efficacy in preventing serious cases and deaths. Like any other treatment, there is a probability of adverse effects, but this probability is very low. Mass vaccination will help us get out of this as soon as possible.”
The doctor referred to studies that show that in addition to reducing severe cases, the vaccine against COVID-19 also reduces the probability of infection: “In the U.S. veterans’ health system administered to 54,360 participants, the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine showed 97.1% effectiveness in preventing infection.”
He emphasized that “Mass vaccination has been shown to eradicate diseases such as smallpox, and decrease mortality from other diseases such as measles and polio. Vaccines save lives, and the COVID-19 vaccines have proven it.”
Finally, Dr. Guida asserted that “The vaccine is safe, side effects are mild and serious side effects are very rare and virus-related problems without the vaccine can be highly problematic. So, it is better to get vaccinated.” Also, he continued “because most of the vaccination has been done, hospital admissions have decreased and we have been able to keep the country (UK) walking, without the need for another quarantine.”
Sabrina Martín Rondon is a Venezuelan journalist. Her source is politics and economics. She is a specialist in corporate communications and is committed to the task of dismantling the supposed benefits of socialism // Sabrina Martín Rondon es periodista venezolana. Su fuente es la política y economía. Es especialista en comunicaciones corporativas y se ha comprometido con la tarea de desmontar las supuestas bondades del socialismo