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Countries respond to heart inflammation risk from mRNA shots

Nurse Eunice Lee prepares to give an injection of the Covid-19 vaccine to a health care worker at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, California on December 16, 2020. (Photo by Brian van der Brug - POOL - AFP)

Some countries are limiting the use of COVID-19 shots based on so-called mRNA technology to younger people following reports of possible rare cardiovascular side-effects.

Europe’s drug regulator said in July it had found a possible link between a very rare inflammatory heart condition and COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

However, the benefits of mRNA shots in preventing COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risks, European and U.S. regulators and the World Health Organization have said.

Here are some of the steps some countries are taking:

CANADA

The Public Health Agency of Canada said data suggested that reported cases of rare heart inflammation were higher after Moderna’s vaccine compared with the Pfizer/BioNTech shots. read more

DENMARK

The Danish Health Agency said that it was continuing to offer Moderna’s vaccine to under-18s and that an earlier statement suggesting a suspension had been a miscommunication. read more

FINLAND

Finland paused the use of Moderna shots for younger people and instead would give Pfizer’s vaccine to men born in and after 1991. It offers shots to those aged 12 and over. read more

FRANCE

France’s public health authority has recommended people under 30 be given Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine when available instead of Moderna, which carried comparatively higher risks of heart-related problems.

GERMANY

Germany’s vaccine advisory committee has recommended people under 30 be vaccinated only with the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine as it showed a lower number of cases of heart inflammation in younger people than the Moderna shot. read more

HONG KONG

A panel of health experts advising the government recommended in September children aged 12-17 should get only one dose of BioNTech’s (22UAy.DE) vaccine after reports of heart inflammation as a side-effect. read more

NORWAY

Norway will hold off giving children aged 12-15 a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine until it has gathered more research. On Oct. 22 the health ministry said there was no urgency given that children have a low risk of falling seriously ill from the disease. read more

On Sep. 2, Norway decided on giving one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to children aged 12-15. read more

SWEDEN

Sweden has extended the pause of Moderna’s vaccine beyond the original Dec. 1 deadline for people aged 30 and below due to rare heart-related side-effects, the public health agency said on Oct. 21.

The agency said earlier in October that data pointed to an increase of myocarditis and pericarditis among youths and young adults vaccinated with Moderna vaccine Spikevax, and paused its use for all born 1991 or later. read more

SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa will start vaccinating children between 12 and 17 using the Pfizer (PFE.N) vaccine, the health minister said, as the country looks to ratchet up inoculations ahead of final-year examinations. read more

On the advice of its vaccine advisory committee, the government would only give teenagers a single shot of Pfizer’s normal two-shot regime due to concerns that it may affect the heart.

UNITED KINGDOM

Britain has been offering all 12-15-year-olds a first shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Second doses would not be offered to the age group until at least the spring when there may be more data from around the world.

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