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  • Writer's pictureDr. Bow Tie

COVID-19 Catch-Up: Straight From The Heart

I've been dealing with some writer's block lately. My last two posts took weeks to write, which is not normal for me. But as I look at the sheer amount of topics I've accumulated (because there has been a LOT to talk about), my motivation slowly returns (and then I wrote several paragraphs and then lost those, so motivation almost went down again, haha). Anyway, let's get started.


On January 2nd, 2023, Buffalo football fans (including me) and NFL fans in general were rocked when Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He required CPR and had to be rushed to the hospital. He is, thankfully, recovering now, thanks to the quick actions of the on-field staff. Before they could even make the decision to cancel the game (which took too long, Roger Goodell), anti-vaxxers were posting baseless assumptions that it was related to a COVID-19 vaccine, despite having zero knowledge of when or even if he received it.

This is not the first time anti-vaxxers have tried to capitalize on someone's death or misery to further an anti-vaccine agenda. I AM NOT SAYING THERE ARE NO ADVERSE EVENTS WITH VACCINES. It's not an all-or-nothing scenario, but adverse events are EXTREMELY rare with vaccines. Thankfully! But trolls keep trying to pounce on celebrity deaths with "oh, they 'died suddenly'? I wonder what it could be!" That's a reference to the "documentary" Died Suddenly, which I have talked about previously - a movie that tries to show multiple examples of vaccine-induced deaths...except most of the deaths in the movie (if the people actually died, which several did not) are not related to vaccines (several come from before the pandemic, some were related to COVID-19 itself).

The other thing anti-vaccine advocates like to do is demand the release of medical records. Trolls were claiming that Hamlin had been replaced or paid off or that he was lying in some other way and harassing him and his loved ones for medical records - which they had no right to do, and no basis for their claims (no, this is not the same as asking for proof of vaccination for entry into a public place in the height of a pandemic). And no, I don't feel bad for calling them trolls or anti-vaxxers, because frankly, it's disgusting behavior.

I was not involved in Damar Hamlin's care, and neither were most doctors who you will see comment. HOWEVER, it was a very publicly visible event and, as all evidence-based doctors (that have not sold out) do, we examine the events leading up to someone's arrival at the hospital. Hamlin's presentation most resembles a documented condition called commotio cordis, a condition most often seen in youth sports (but not exclusively) where a sudden sharp impact to the chest at just the right moment in the heart's electrical beat cycle, when the electrical signal is resetting itself, causes cardiac arrest. The timing is a narrow window, which is why it does not happen often (but still happens).

You'll notice a lot of parentheticals here, and that's because many people have insisted on spreading conspiracy theories about these points, and here's one more. The other comment that keeps cropping up is, "We're seeing so many more athletes collapsing on the field in the last two years, how do you explain that?!"'s not true. That's how I explain it. Athletes have been collapsing on the field for as long as there have been sports. Sudden cardiac death has been the most common cause of athletes for decades (probably longer). So what has changed? There is a 24-hour news cycle and your hand is likely holding a device with access to multiple apps showing or telling you about these these athlete deaths, whether through your friends, family, or favorite news network.

The insistence that collapsing athletes has increased likely stems from two sources. One is an article in "Good Sciencing" which claims that there have been 1500 cases of athletes' sudden cardiac death in last 2 years...except that it really overhyped its "evidence." Similar to Died Suddenly, several of the cases mentioned in that article 1) Weren't athletes, 2) didn't actually die, or 3) didn't die of sudden cardiac death.

The other is a report that people claim is written by the International Olympic Committee, except that it was not. It was PRESENTED to them by another group alleging 1100-1500 deaths, but their report faces the same problem as the Good Sciencing piece.

It has become so easy to publish these pieces with misconstrued data that can fuel eye-catching headlines that then fuel angry comments on TikTok and other social media, but the truth is often more nuanced (or, in the cases of these claims, the truth is the opposite of what is claimed). Still, that does not stop grifting charlatans from convincing others that the vaccines are killing people (and often selling themselves or their products as an alternative).

You know what the biggest takeaway from this whole situation is? LEARN CPR. Rapid cardiopulmonary resuscitation absolutely played a role in saving Damar Hamlin's life. Yes, there were professionals on the field, but anywhere, fast, correctly-done bystander CPR is shown to save lives (below is a link to a 1985 paper that demonstrated this). Take a course today. I'll link to one below that is FREE if you don't need the certification (I do for work, but most folks just need the education).

So glad you're okay, #3.


There is a new paper published in the British Medical Journal, specifically BMJ Medicine, titled "Clinical outcomes of myocarditis after SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination in four Nordic countries: population based cohort study." The study, which looked at records of patients in four Scandinavian countries - Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden - is being touted by grifters like Tracy Hoeg (a physician, unfortunately, who has found a following by misinterpreting data to undermine public health and now writes for (is paid by?) conservative think tank The Brownstone Institute) as some sort of bombshell about vaccine-induced myocarditis. Except that the study was not designed for that - it was designed to compare severity between vaccine-induced myocarditis and COVID-19-induced myocarditis.

They looked at records of over 7000 people who were diagnosed with myocarditis within 28 days of vaccination, within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 PCR, or neither (which does not factor in long COVID and does not differentiate between the myriad other causes of myocarditis); if patients had both COVID-19 and vaccination, they went by whichever happened most recently. There were far more documented vaccinated patients than COVID-19 PCR tests in those four countries during the time of the study, which in the real world is hard to interpret since home tests and simply skipping the test are more commonly done these days (I'm not sure how much those were factors in Nordic countries, but again, that's not what this study examined). So it's hard to actually say anything about the rates of myocarditis with each etiology (especially since there were so many more in the "other" category than in the COVID or vaccination categories).

Here is what can be interpreted: the risk of heart failure (pump failure of the heart, causing fluid overload) and the risk of death were both much higher in those patients with COVID-induced myocarditis than vaccine-induced myocarditis. This was especially true for patients aged 12-39.

So despite what the Tracy Hoegs and other conservative money-paid grifters are claiming, the study does not make any claims about causes or rates, but it DOES confirm that vaccine-induced myocarditis, when it does happen, is more often much milder. COVID myocarditis is usually more debilitating and deadly, which is what evidenced-based doctors like me have said all along.

Grifters keep trying to undermine vaccines and their purpose, but despite their efforts, the evidence continues to support widespread vaccination for the sake of public health. We'll talk more about the need for boosters (because there is that need) in my next post, but for now, the message remains - get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask indoors and in crowded spaces/around strangers, and LEARN CPR. And don't harass innocent families for a grifter's clout.

Debunk Twitter Thread by Dr. Bob Morris:

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