COVID-19 AND VACCINES: Moderna+SM-102, Magnets, and Myocarditis
Today we're going to talk about two myths that have making the rounds, as well as a concern that has risen with the vaccines (but is thankfully not as concerning as it first appeared). Interestingly, my 3 topics all begin with M. Coincidentally, 3M just shared its "State of Science Index" of 2021, depicting how people are responding to science. According to their surveys, trust in science is actually going up! Sometimes I don't feel like that's the case in my little corner of the world, but as we see the lowest reported cases of COVID-19 in the USA since March 2020, one can only hope that people continue to trust science (not politics, not pseudoscience twisted to meet political agendas, and not salespeople) and get vaccinated to protect themselves AND OTHERS.
MODERNA and SM-102
There is a picture circulating of the list of ingredients in the vaccine (the mRNA, sugar, and the lipids used to deliver the mRNA), next to the Cayman chemical Safety Data Sheet which lists SM-102 as not fit for human or veterinary use, and it leaves people wondering why we're using this "dangerous chemical" in a vaccine. However, the circulating picture is only one page of the Safety Data Sheet. If you look at the full sheet, the product by Cayman Chemical is actually SM-102 combined with chloroform. The chloroform is listed as the dangerous component with all the potentially harmful properties requiring monitoring (I'll link to the Safety Data Sheet below, this is on page 7 of 11. That's right, 11 pages. Context is important). Companies often use chemicals in a form uniquely suited to their needs. Cayman Chemical needs SM-102 combined with chloroform for whatever they do with it. Moderna uses SM-102 in a much more pure form, NOT combined with chloroform, and is much safer to inject intramuscularly into a human to deliver a vaccine.
There's a video circulating of a person showing their family member how a magnet is now sticking to their vaccinated arm and blaming the vaccine. Spoiler alert: This is not due to the vaccine. It's due to moisture on your skin. Dr. Liz M, known as ScienceWhizLiz on Instagram, a PhD who has been debunking misinformation throughout the pandemic, has a great video illustrating how this works. If you moisten a magnet or anything with ferromagnetic metal in it OR any non-ferromagnetic metal, and you're sweaty or there's oil on your skin (which there is most of the time), it will likely stick. This has nothing to do with magnetism and everything to do with increased surface tension of the water or other liquid on your skin (even in subtle amounts). Also, it should be noted that NONE of the vaccines have any ferromagnetic metals. We've all done the thing with sticking spoons to our noses or coins to ourselves. That is all this is, thankfully. The vaccines are not making you magnetic.
MYOCARDITIS in the mRNA VACCINES
Recently we’ve seen cases of a condition called myocarditis in several people after they received their vaccines. Myocarditis is literally inflammation of the cardiac muscles (myo-: muscle; -card-: heart, -itis: inflammation). It is a condition that can be caused by a variety of things, most commonly viral infections like SARS-CoV-2 or Coxsackie. So far there have been 62 cases out of over 5 million observed vaccinations in Israel; in the US it was 59 cases out of 122 million Moderna doses and 89 cases out of 155 million Pfizer doses reported to VAERS (see my posts on VAERS to learn more about why that’s to be taken with a grain of salt). Most of the cases have been in men under 30, have shown up within 1-4 days of vaccination, and the majority have been mild and quickly self-resolving. They are investigating just like they did with the Bell’s palsy reports back in August and with the blood clots with the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Similar to the Bell’s palsy concerns, the rate of myocarditis appears to be NO MORE FREQUENT than it would be in the normal population without vaccines. Many times, people don’t even go to get checked out for myocarditis because it’s often mild and resolves on its own (or completely asymptomatic). The only reason we’re noticing it more right now is because everybody has a spotlight on anybody getting vaccinated. They are keeping a watchful eye and investigating it because that’s what you have to do with any of these reports, especially if there are multiple (remember, transparency is key here). However, at this time there is no reason to suspect an increased likelihood of myocarditis with COVID-19 vaccinations. You are much more likely (and we have seen it) to get myocarditis with an actual COVID-19 infection. It is still recommended for all people ages 12 and up.
As always, I welcome your questions about these or other myths and genuine concerns. In the meantime, keep wearing a mask (if unvaccinated or around others who may be unvaccinated), wash your hands frequently, don't gather in large groups, and get your vaccine! #ThisIsOurShot #VaccinesWork #VaccinesCauseAdults
ScienceWhizLiz debunking the magnet hoax.