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      Myocarditis With COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines

      , MD, PhD 1 , , , MD 2 , , MD, PhD 3
      Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
      COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines, mRNA vaccine, myocarditis, pericarditis, SARS-CoV-2, vaccination

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          Myocarditis has been recognized as a rare complication of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mRNA vaccinations, especially in young adult and adolescent males. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, myocarditis/pericarditis rates are ≈12.6 cases per million doses of second-dose mRNA vaccine among individuals 12 to 39 years of age. In reported cases, patients with myocarditis invariably presented with chest pain, usually 2 to 3 days after a second dose of mRNA vaccination, and had elevated cardiac troponin levels. ECG was abnormal with ST elevations in most, and cardiac MRI was suggestive of myocarditis in all tested patients. There was no evidence of acute COVID-19 or other viral infections. In 1 case, a cardiomyopathy gene panel was negative, but autoantibody levels against certain self-antigens and frequency of natural killer cells were increased. Although the mechanisms for development of myocarditis are not clear, molecular mimicry between the spike protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and self-antigens, trigger of preexisting dysregulated immune pathways in certain individuals, immune response to mRNA, and activation of immunologic pathways, and dysregulated cytokine expression have been proposed. The reasons for male predominance in myocarditis cases are unknown, but possible explanations relate to sex hormone differences in immune response and myocarditis, and also underdiagnosis of cardiac disease in women. Almost all patients had resolution of symptoms and signs and improvement in diagnostic markers and imaging with or without treatment. Despite rare cases of myocarditis, the benefit-risk assessment for COVID-19 vaccination shows a favorable balance for all age and sex groups; therefore, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone ≥12 years of age.

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          Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine

          Abstract Background Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and the resulting coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) have afflicted tens of millions of people in a worldwide pandemic. Safe and effective vaccines are needed urgently. Methods In an ongoing multinational, placebo-controlled, observer-blinded, pivotal efficacy trial, we randomly assigned persons 16 years of age or older in a 1:1 ratio to receive two doses, 21 days apart, of either placebo or the BNT162b2 vaccine candidate (30 μg per dose). BNT162b2 is a lipid nanoparticle–formulated, nucleoside-modified RNA vaccine that encodes a prefusion stabilized, membrane-anchored SARS-CoV-2 full-length spike protein. The primary end points were efficacy of the vaccine against laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 and safety. Results A total of 43,548 participants underwent randomization, of whom 43,448 received injections: 21,720 with BNT162b2 and 21,728 with placebo. There were 8 cases of Covid-19 with onset at least 7 days after the second dose among participants assigned to receive BNT162b2 and 162 cases among those assigned to placebo; BNT162b2 was 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 (95% credible interval, 90.3 to 97.6). Similar vaccine efficacy (generally 90 to 100%) was observed across subgroups defined by age, sex, race, ethnicity, baseline body-mass index, and the presence of coexisting conditions. Among 10 cases of severe Covid-19 with onset after the first dose, 9 occurred in placebo recipients and 1 in a BNT162b2 recipient. The safety profile of BNT162b2 was characterized by short-term, mild-to-moderate pain at the injection site, fatigue, and headache. The incidence of serious adverse events was low and was similar in the vaccine and placebo groups. Conclusions A two-dose regimen of BNT162b2 conferred 95% protection against Covid-19 in persons 16 years of age or older. Safety over a median of 2 months was similar to that of other viral vaccines. (Funded by BioNTech and Pfizer; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04368728.)
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            Efficacy and Safety of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine

            Abstract Background Vaccines are needed to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and to protect persons who are at high risk for complications. The mRNA-1273 vaccine is a lipid nanoparticle–encapsulated mRNA-based vaccine that encodes the prefusion stabilized full-length spike protein of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes Covid-19. Methods This phase 3 randomized, observer-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was conducted at 99 centers across the United States. Persons at high risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection or its complications were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive two intramuscular injections of mRNA-1273 (100 μg) or placebo 28 days apart. The primary end point was prevention of Covid-19 illness with onset at least 14 days after the second injection in participants who had not previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2. Results The trial enrolled 30,420 volunteers who were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either vaccine or placebo (15,210 participants in each group). More than 96% of participants received both injections, and 2.2% had evidence (serologic, virologic, or both) of SARS-CoV-2 infection at baseline. Symptomatic Covid-19 illness was confirmed in 185 participants in the placebo group (56.5 per 1000 person-years; 95% confidence interval [CI], 48.7 to 65.3) and in 11 participants in the mRNA-1273 group (3.3 per 1000 person-years; 95% CI, 1.7 to 6.0); vaccine efficacy was 94.1% (95% CI, 89.3 to 96.8%; P<0.001). Efficacy was similar across key secondary analyses, including assessment 14 days after the first dose, analyses that included participants who had evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection at baseline, and analyses in participants 65 years of age or older. Severe Covid-19 occurred in 30 participants, with one fatality; all 30 were in the placebo group. Moderate, transient reactogenicity after vaccination occurred more frequently in the mRNA-1273 group. Serious adverse events were rare, and the incidence was similar in the two groups. Conclusions The mRNA-1273 vaccine showed 94.1% efficacy at preventing Covid-19 illness, including severe disease. Aside from transient local and systemic reactions, no safety concerns were identified. (Funded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; COVE ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04470427.)
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              Pathological findings of COVID-19 associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome

              Since late December, 2019, an outbreak of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19; previously known as 2019-nCoV)1, 2 was reported in Wuhan, China, 2 which has subsequently affected 26 countries worldwide. In general, COVID-19 is an acute resolved disease but it can also be deadly, with a 2% case fatality rate. Severe disease onset might result in death due to massive alveolar damage and progressive respiratory failure.2, 3 As of Feb 15, about 66 580 cases have been confirmed and over 1524 deaths. However, no pathology has been reported due to barely accessible autopsy or biopsy.2, 3 Here, we investigated the pathological characteristics of a patient who died from severe infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by postmortem biopsies. This study is in accordance with regulations issued by the National Health Commission of China and the Helsinki Declaration. Our findings will facilitate understanding of the pathogenesis of COVID-19 and improve clinical strategies against the disease. A 50-year-old man was admitted to a fever clinic on Jan 21, 2020, with symptoms of fever, chills, cough, fatigue and shortness of breath. He reported a travel history to Wuhan Jan 8–12, and that he had initial symptoms of mild chills and dry cough on Jan 14 (day 1 of illness) but did not see a doctor and kept working until Jan 21 (figure 1 ). Chest x-ray showed multiple patchy shadows in both lungs (appendix p 2), and a throat swab sample was taken. On Jan 22 (day 9 of illness), the Beijing Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed by reverse real-time PCR assay that the patient had COVID-19. Figure 1 Timeline of disease course according to days from initial presentation of illness and days from hospital admission, from Jan 8–27, 2020 SARS-CoV-2=severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. He was immediately admitted to the isolation ward and received supplemental oxygen through a face mask. He was given interferon alfa-2b (5 million units twice daily, atomisation inhalation) and lopinavir plus ritonavir (500 mg twice daily, orally) as antiviral therapy, and moxifloxacin (0·4 g once daily, intravenously) to prevent secondary infection. Given the serious shortness of breath and hypoxaemia, methylprednisolone (80 mg twice daily, intravenously) was administered to attenuate lung inflammation. Laboratory tests results are listed in the appendix (p 4). After receiving medication, his body temperature reduced from 39·0 to 36·4 °C. However, his cough, dyspnoea, and fatigue did not improve. On day 12 of illness, after initial presentation, chest x-ray showed progressive infiltrate and diffuse gridding shadow in both lungs. He refused ventilator support in the intensive care unit repeatedly because he suffered from claustrophobia; therefore, he received high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen therapy (60% concentration, flow rate 40 L/min). On day 13 of illness, the patient's symptoms had still not improved, but oxygen saturation remained above 95%. In the afternoon of day 14 of illness, his hypoxaemia and shortness of breath worsened. Despite receiving HFNC oxygen therapy (100% concentration, flow rate 40 L/min), oxygen saturation values decreased to 60%, and the patient had sudden cardiac arrest. He was immediately given invasive ventilation, chest compression, and adrenaline injection. Unfortunately, the rescue was not successful, and he died at 18:31 (Beijing time). Biopsy samples were taken from lung, liver, and heart tissue of the patient. Histological examination showed bilateral diffuse alveolar damage with cellular fibromyxoid exudates (figure 2A, B ). The right lung showed evident desquamation of pneumocytes and hyaline membrane formation, indicating acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS; figure 2A). The left lung tissue displayed pulmonary oedema with hyaline membrane formation, suggestive of early-phase ARDS (figure 2B). Interstitial mononuclear inflammatory infiltrates, dominated by lymphocytes, were seen in both lungs. Multinucleated syncytial cells with atypical enlarged pneumocytes characterised by large nuclei, amphophilic granular cytoplasm, and prominent nucleoli were identified in the intra-alveolar spaces, showing viral cytopathic-like changes. No obvious intranuclear or intracytoplasmic viral inclusions were identified. Figure 2 Pathological manifestations of right (A) and left (B) lung tissue, liver tissue (C), and heart tissue (D) in a patient with severe pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2 SARS-CoV-2=severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The pathological features of COVID-19 greatly resemble those seen in SARS and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection.4, 5 In addition, the liver biopsy specimens of the patient with COVID-19 showed moderate microvesicular steatosis and mild lobular and portal activity (figure 2C), indicating the injury could have been caused by either SARS-CoV-2 infection or drug-induced liver injury. There were a few interstitial mononuclear inflammatory infiltrates, but no other substantial damage in the heart tissue (figure 2D). Peripheral blood was prepared for flow cytometric analysis. We found that the counts of peripheral CD4 and CD8 T cells were substantially reduced, while their status was hyperactivated, as evidenced by the high proportions of HLA-DR (CD4 3·47%) and CD38 (CD8 39·4%) double-positive fractions (appendix p 3). Moreover, there was an increased concentration of highly proinflammatory CCR6+ Th17 in CD4 T cells (appendix p 3). Additionally, CD8 T cells were found to harbour high concentrations of cytotoxic granules, in which 31·6% cells were perforin positive, 64·2% cells were granulysin positive, and 30·5% cells were granulysin and perforin double-positive (appendix p 3). Our results imply that overactivation of T cells, manifested by increase of Th17 and high cytotoxicity of CD8 T cells, accounts for, in part, the severe immune injury in this patient. X-ray images showed rapid progression of pneumonia and some differences between the left and right lung. In addition, the liver tissue showed moderate microvesicular steatosis and mild lobular activity, but there was no conclusive evidence to support SARS-CoV-2 infection or drug-induced liver injury as the cause. There were no obvious histological changes seen in heart tissue, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 infection might not directly impair the heart. Although corticosteroid treatment is not routinely recommended to be used for SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia, 1 according to our pathological findings of pulmonary oedema and hyaline membrane formation, timely and appropriate use of corticosteroids together with ventilator support should be considered for the severe patients to prevent ARDS development. Lymphopenia is a common feature in the patients with COVID-19 and might be a critical factor associated with disease severity and mortality. 3 Our clinical and pathological findings in this severe case of COVID-19 can not only help to identify a cause of death, but also provide new insights into the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2-related pneumonia, which might help physicians to formulate a timely therapeutic strategy for similar severe patients and reduce mortality. This online publication has been corrected. The corrected version first appeared at thelancet.com/respiratory on February 25, 2020

                Author and article information

                Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (Hagerstown, MD )
                20 July 2021
                10 August 2021
                : 144
                : 6
                : 471-484
                [1 ]Winters Center for Heart Failure Research, Cardiovascular Research Institute (B.B.), Baylor College of Medicine, DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX.
                [2 ]Department of Medicine (I.K.), Baylor College of Medicine, DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX.
                [3 ]Department of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology, National School of Tropical Medicine (P.J.H.), Baylor College of Medicine, DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX.
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: Biykem Bozkurt, MD, PhD, MEDVAMC, 2002 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 77030. Email bbozkurt@ 123456bcm.edu
                © 2021 American Heart Association, Inc.

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

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