Vaccines or Not, Sudden Deaths Have Always Been About

Shin Jie Yong

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If we see someone healthy or with a stable medical condition drop dead a few days or weeks after getting a vaccine, we would be very suspicious of the vaccine, provided no other obvious explanations exist. After all, what else could explain such a mysterious death other than the vaccine?

Such an argument, albeit purely speculative, is highly convincing at the instinctive level. Our reptilian brain can’t help but associate the two, even though there’s no concrete evidence for doing so. Our prefrontal cortex, in contrast, would question, objectively, if the two are actually related or not.

After all, anecdote-driven judgments were how our ancestors survived in the pre-historic era, but in today’s age, it may backfire instead.

For instance, erroneous anti-vaccine articles — even from well-known physicians and scientists — always claim that the hearts of many have suddenly ceased beating after getting the Covid-19 vaccine. And too many people are falling trap into such a fallacious claim.

Here’s an example of an article dated December 2021:

All over America, and all over the world, cardiac arrest, heart inflammation and heart attack deaths are exploding. Young athletes are dropping right on the field; star soccer players in Europe are dropping dead in the middle of games; referees, coaches and even fans in the stands are having cardiac emergencies. It’s something no one has ever seen before. It’s an epidemic.
What do all these victims have in common? They’ve all been vaccinated.

Now, are such cases of sudden cardiac death never been heard before?

The answer is no.

In fact, the most common causes of sudden or mysterious medical deaths in young people are all rooted in the cardiovascular system:

  • Arrhythmia: abnormal heartbeat rhythm.
  • Myocardial infarction: heart attack.
  • Intracranial hemorrhage: bleeding inside the brain.
  • Stroke: blood clot blocking blood flow into the brain.
  • Pulmonary embolism: blood clot in the lungs.
  • Aortic catastrophe: a tear in the body’s largest blood vessel.

As Mayoclinic, the #1 hospital in the U.S., noted:

Sudden death in people younger than 35, often due to undiscovered heart defects or overlooked heart abnormalities, is rare. When these sudden deaths occur, it’s often during physical activity, such as playing a sport, and more often occurs in males than in females.

Cleveland Clinic, the #2 hospital in the U.S., also stated that:

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a sudden, unexpected death caused by loss of heart function (sudden cardiac arrest). Sudden cardiac death is the largest cause of natural death in the United States, causing about 325,000 adult deaths in the United States each year.

If sudden cardiac death befell 325,000 adults every year in the U.S. alone, it’s not surprising to see some or most of them occurring after vaccination.

Here are some other statistics:

  • Sudden cardiac death is also the leading cause of non-physical death in young athletes, with an estimated incidence of 0.5 to 2 per 100,000 young athletes per year and 1 per 5000–8000 elite athletes per year.
  • Even in kids and teens less than 18 years, about 23,000 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest — likely including sudden cardiac death — occur annually in the U.S.
  • In individuals aged 1–35, the annual incidence of sudden cardiac death is about 1.3 cases per 100,000 persons, of which 72% of cases occurred in males, and 40% of cases were medically unexplained (see figure below).

So, the annual occurrence of sudden cardiac death is rather high, especially among young males. It’s, therefore, inevitable that some or most of the sudden cardiac death victims do and will have one thing in common: Covid-19 vaccination, because Covid-19 vaccination is common to all.

In other words, those sudden cardiac deaths would have happened even if the Covid-19 vaccine didn’t exist. But too many people don’t understand this.

It’s also inevitable that some people will incorrectly associate the two — sudden cardiac death with Covid-19 vaccination — together because it’s an easy conclusion. And we, sapiens, want answers to enigmatic things. And we also like easy answers as it’s less cognitively demanding.

For example, in late 2021, healthy 17-year-old Jake West died from a cardiac arrest during football practice in Indiana. Soon, news of the Covid-19 vaccine being the culprit of the death circulated widely on social media. But Jake actually had an undiagnosed heart condition that persisted since 2013.

“My tragedy of losing my son is always upsetting, and to think that somebody would use that for their gain is very upsetting,” Julie West, Jake’s mother, told The Associated Press. “It’s mind-boggling to me that there are people out there like that that want to spread or have their own agenda.”

Indeed, the cause of sudden cardiac death is usually undiagnosed, underlying heart conditions — some of which are inherited or present at birth — such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickened heart muscle walls), coronary artery abnormalities, or long QT syndrome (abnormal heart rhythm). People at risk of sudden cardiac death are those who faint during physical activity for no apparent reasons or have a family history of sudden cardiac death.

But the chances are that you don’t need to worry about sudden cardiac death as it’s rather rare — just like how someone dropped dead after Covid-19 vaccination is extremely rare too. But given the interconnected world we live in, such rare events seem more familiar and personal than reality.

Of course, the claim that Covid-19 vaccines — particularly the mRNA and DNA ones— are 100% safe is not true either. I’ve written extensively on Covid-19 vaccine safety elsewhere, so I won’t dive into the details, but I can confidently say they are at least 99.999% safe — safe as in it won’t rob someone’s life.

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MSc Biology | 7x first-author academic papers | 250+ articles on coronavirus | Freelance medical writer

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