As I cover, a mysterious hepatitis outbreak has already affected at least 169 children in 12 countries Forbes on 26 April. It is mysterious as its cause has not yet been clearly established. But take a wild guess at what some people on social media are trying to blame for the outbreak. Here’s a hint: it’s something that does not turn you into a giant magnet and does not Stick the keys to your forehead. Yes, anonymous social media accounts are trying to link the hepatitis outbreak, in which at least one child has died and 17 needs a liver transplant, drum roll please, Covid-19 vaccines. And with some of these accounts there is also a website called exposio Citing two “studies” as claims they serve as evidence.
For example, here’s a tweet from an account that calls itself a Donald J. Trump tracker:
It is no longer clear who is a “minister’s deputy” and whether it is the same as “vice president to the president” of an organization or “assistant to the secretary” of a government body. But when you claim someone said something, at least provide that person’s real name or a link to the source. You can track Trump, but others need to track where you’re getting your information from.
Furthermore, there is a small problem with blaming COVID-19 vaccines for hepatitis outbreaks. A World Health Organization (WHO) report from 23 April clearly stated that “hypotheses relating to side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are currently not supported as most affected children did not receive the COVID-19 vaccination.” ” So how can a child get hepatitis from the COVID-19 vaccine when that child hasn’t even received the COVID-19 vaccine? It would be like blaming Madonna for being late to work when you haven’t even met Madonna.
Then what about those two so-called “studies” that some people are throwing around? For example, take a look at the following tweet that used the fire emoji and offered a post on exposio,
Well, the so called Pizard study reference in this tweet is actually something published Current Issues in Molecular Biology On February 25, 2022, long before the WHO declared an outbreak of hepatitis. All this study has shown that when human liver cells in a test tube are exposed to components of the Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, the liver cells absorb the components of the vaccine much more rapidly. Of course, unless you are a giant test tube, this does not mean that when you receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, all components of the vaccine will go to your liver immediately. And just because vaccine components can enter liver cells does not “suggest” that COVID-19 vaccines are responsible for hepatitis outbreaks. For example, you can pretend that having 50 marmots in your bed can keep you up all night, especially if you have to play Parcheesi with them. However, that doesn’t mean marmots are to blame for the lack of sleep that Americans are getting in general.
Then there was this “new study” produced by a tweet and another post from another anonymous social media account. exposio,
This so-called study is not actually a formal study, but a case report published in Journal of Hepatology On April 21, 2022. The case report describes what happened to a 52-year-old male in Germany who developed acute hepatitis two to three weeks after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Their liver samples showed evidence of inflammation as well as the presence of T cells. T cells, known as T lymphocytes, are white blood cells that perform various immune defense functions for your body. The presence of T cells strongly suggested that the inflammation of the man’s liver may be due to his immune system’s response to vaccination against COVID-19. Doctors felt that these findings were “consistent with a possible autoimmune hepatitis” and treated them with oral budesonide and eventually steroids with ursodeoxycholic acid. Eventually, within eight weeks, the man’s liver enzyme levels returned to normal.
So, yes, this case was evidence that acute hepatitis could potentially be a side effect of the Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Again, however, an important difference is that this was a case report and not a study. It shows what happened to a single man (in this case, single in numbers and not marital status) after vaccination. A case report cannot tell you how common or how likely an event might be. For example, last month I covered for Forbes Case report of a woman whose end-of-life glass remained locked in her bladder for four years. A rare occurrence like this doesn’t mean you should never use a glass again or that you should yell whenever someone tries to drink you. Similarly, one case report or even multiple reports of acute hepatitis following COVID-19 vaccination should not be the reason alone to avoid Covid-19 vaccines. So far, there is no evidence that acute hepatitis is anything more than a potentially very rare side effect.
In addition, not all cases of acute hepatitis are created equal. Acute hepatitis is a very broad term for a sudden onset inflammation of the liver. The individual in the case report apparently survived his bout with acute hepatitis without any permanent damage. This was nowhere near the damage seen in some children suffering from an ongoing hepatitis outbreak.
The major culprit behind the hepatitis outbreak at this point is type 41 adenovirus, possibly in combination with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), as I described it for Forbes Earlier There are now many different types of adenoviruses. While some types are more likely to cause common cold symptoms or respiratory problems, adenovirus type 41 is most commonly transmitted through the fecal-oral route (which is a nice way of saying defecation-to-mouth). It usually affects your gut, resulting in gastroenteritis.
COVID-19 vaccines use different types of adenoviruses, with Astra-Zeneca using a chimpanzee adenovirus and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine using Type 26 adenovirus. In both cases, the adenovirus is inactivated so that it cannot cause disease. Still, some anonymous social media accounts have taken on the whole adenovirus thing, claiming that there is evidence that the adenovirus-based AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are linked to hepatitis outbreaks:
Again, such claims overlook the minor problem that most children affected by hepatitis outbreaks do not receive vaccines for COVID-19, whether the vaccines are adenovirus-based or not. This fact will make it difficult for any claim about COVID-19 vaccines to stick like keys on their foreheads.