When I saw the headline ‘Global Surge in Cardiovascular Deaths’ in the May 20th update from Global Health Now (GHN is the organ of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) my eyes lit up. Could it be that, at last, I would read something critical of the COVID-19 vaccines? Would there, at least, be a mention of the well-known side-effects related to the cardiovascular system? Would there be the slightest concern that, through the continued vaccine rollout, we might be storing up adverse health consequences for the future?
In a word, no.
The GHN entry referred to a new 2023 World Heart Federation report titled Confronting the World’s Number One Killer, wherein it was reported that there had been a huge increase (more than 60%) in cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the past thirty years and that cardiovascular deaths remained the leading international cause of death. At least, the ‘number one killer’ was not COVID-19.
Given that the report was published this year one could be forgiven for thinking that data covering the COVID-19 vaccine rollout since early 2021 would be included. One would be wrong. The graphs presented, perhaps conveniently, only take the reader up to the end of 2018. The report does refer to cardiovascular disease being responsible for 20.5 million deaths in 2021 but the footnote to this point makes the extraordinarily confusing point that: “This report largely relies on 2019 data throughout, as that is the most recent year with the level of disaggregation required for analyses undertaken.” It is almost as if they are avoiding any actual examination of data available beyond 2019 with which comparison of data in 2020, 2021 and beyond could be made.
COVID-19 does get a ‘walk on part’ with three passing mentions about how it stalled health service provision worldwide. The report summarises its view on the implications of COVID-19 restrictions in another extraordinary statement: “We acknowledge that COVID-19 had an important impact on CVDs; however, because of limited data, it is outside the scope of this report.” That really did say “limited data” when no less an organisation than the British Heart Foundation reported an increase in heart disease deaths at home in 2020. That was during lockdown and before the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. I looked in vain for any mention of the likely effect of COVID-19 vaccines on cardiovascular disease which, again, is extraordinary given the well-established link, again courtesy of the British Heart Foundation.
Early in the report, reference is made to an article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology(JACC) titled ‘The Global Burden of Cardiovascular Diseases and Risk’ which is used to support the claim of 20.5 million cardiovascular disease deaths in 2021. Again, one could be forgiven for thinking that one might learn about CVD deaths following the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Again, one would be wrong. The article makes no specific reference to the 20.5 million number, but it does provide a table listing in order of magnitude 18 causes of cardiovascular deaths in 2021 and then proceeds to discuss the likely underlying causes such as diet, air pollution and smoking.