Can Spike Proteins Cause CardioVascular Damage: Studies

SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, invades human cells via its spike protein, which binds to the ACE2 receptor on the host cell surface.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines were designed to contain the genetic sequence for the spike protein. When the vaccine is administered, the body's cells use this genetic material to produce its own version of spike, which in theory, stimulates an immune response, generating antibodies and T cells that can recognize the actual virus if the person is later exposed to it.

spike protein 

Many have long been concerned that the vaccine-induced spike protein itself may be harmful because of its potential link to a severe vaccine side-effect seen mostly in young men. The side-effect is called myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle that can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and in severe cases, heart failure.

July 2023 Study Concluded that Vaccine-associated myocardial injury was more common than previously thought

This July 2023 study, published in the European Journal of Heart Failure, concluded that mRNA-1273 vaccine-associated myocardial injury was more common than previously thought, being mild and transient, and more frequent in women versus men.
 
March 2023 Study Investigates Post Vaccine Myocarditis

A study out of Massachusetts by Yonker and colleagues explored the significance of vaccine-induced spike protein [1]. The researchers collected blood from 16 adolescent and young adult patients hospitalized with postvaccine myocarditis. They used these blood samples to compare the patients’ immune profiles to those of 45 healthy, age-matched control patients who had also received the vaccine. Three quarters of the myocarditis patients had developed the pathology after the second dose. The researchers did not include a control group of unvaccinated individuals.
 

Between Group Similarities  

Let’s begin by examining what the myocarditis patients had in common with their healthy counterparts. After performing extensive antibody profiling, the researchers found no differences between the groups in antibody levels, T cell responses, or anti-spike immunoglobulin levels. Humoral immunity – the immunological branch associated with antibodies – was identical between the two groups.  

Between Group Differences  

The researchers did, however, find differences in some other interesting biomarkers. First, all patients with myocarditis had high levels of cardiac troponin C, and C reactive protein, which are both well-established markers of myocardial injury.   

Myocarditis patients also had significantly increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines such as the interleukins and tumor necrosis factor alpha, which the researchers liken to the cytokine response seen in children with COVID-19 multisystem inflammatory syndrome [2].  

The study’s most interesting finding, however, related to the spike protein. As part of their analysis, the researchers discovered that vaccine-stimulated spike protein – unbound by antibodies – was markedly higher in the blood samples of myocarditis patients. Circulating spike was not seen in a single patient in the healthy cohort.   

Spike was observed in the bloodstream of myocarditis patients up to 3 weeks post-vaccination. The researchers did not perform longer-term follow-ups (which would have been interesting).  

The Question of Causality 

In discussing their findings, the researchers pose a key question: was spike itself causing myocarditis, or was there was a common immunological cause of both myocarditis and elevated spike? While the science on this question doesn’t appear to be settled, there is robust research suggesting that spike is intrinsically harmful to heart cells [3, 4, 5, 6]. It can damage pericytes and myocytes. It can inflame the critical endothelial lining. It impairs nitric oxide bioavailability and even harms mitochondrial function. It seems reasonable to conclude that high levels of circulating spike are likely to be a contributor to myocarditis, rather than a benign blood marker of immune dysfunction.  

Why Does Spike Stick Around So Long?  

For their part, the researchers provided the following hypothesis on the critical question of why precisely the spike protein was elevated in postvaccine myocarditis patients: 

“In post-vaccine myocarditis, the spike protein appears to evade antibody recognition because the anti-spike antibodies that are generated are produced in adequate quantities with normal functional and neutralization capacity.”   

On its face, this explanation is tough to decipher. Are we to conclude that the spike protein evaded antibody recognition because antibodies were working normally?   

Other Hypotheses  

Other researchers have presented alternative answers to the question of why spike stays in the system for so long, despite normal antibody function. In a review paper, Bozkurt [7] suggests that either (1) the mRNA which produces spike manages to evade destruction, (2) the dose of mRNA is simply too high for the body to clear, or (3) that Ab2 type antibodies may render spike-neutralizing antibodies ineffective (these explanations are quite technical – if you’re interested in the details, please read the paper for yourself).   

Myocarditis Not Recovered in 80 Percent at 6 Months After Vaccination

Barmada et al (2023) studied a clinical cohort consisting of 23 patients hospitalized for vaccine-associated myocarditis and/or pericarditis. The cohort was predominately male (87 percent) with an average age of 16.9 plus/minus 2.2 years (ranging from 13 to 21 years). Patients had largely noncontributory past medical histories and were generally healthy before vaccination. Most patients had symptom onset 1 to 4 days after the second dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine.

Six patients either first experienced symptoms after a delay of more than seven days after vaccination or were incidentally positive for SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing upon hospital admission—these six patients were thus excluded from further analyses, although they potentially reflect the breadth of clinical presentations of vaccine-associated myopericarditis.

The remaining cohort of 17 patients showed no evidence of recent prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, with antibodies to spike (S) protein but not to nucleocapsid (N) protein and negative nasopharyngeal swab reverse transcription quantitative PCR at hospital admission.

While the authors clearly show high levels of inflammatory markers, the follow-up MRI scans showed only 20 percent had resolved their abnormalities (late gadolinium enhancement) at over six months (199 days).

Autopsies Show COVID-19 Vaccination Likely Caused Fatal Heart Inflammation?

A serious side effect linked to COVID-19 vaccines might lead to death, according to a study (pdf) published by Clinical Research in Cardiology on Nov. 27, 2022. The researchers all work for Heidelberg University Hospital. They were funded by German authorities.

Post-vaccination myocarditis, a form of heart inflammation, was identified in a subset of people who died “unexpectedly” at home within 20 days of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Researchers analyzed autopsies that had been performed on the people and conducted additional research, including studying tissue samples.

Researchers started with a group of 35, but excluded 10 from further analysis because other causes of death were identified. Of the remaining 25, researchers identified evidence of myocarditis in five.

All of the five people received a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine within seven days of their death, with a mean of 2.5 days. The median age was 58 years. None of the people had COVID-19 infection prior to being vaccinated and nasal swabs returned negative.

Autopsy findings combined with the lack of evidence of other causes of death and how the vaccination happened shortly before the deaths enabled researchers to say that for three of the cases, vaccination was the “likely cause” of the myocarditis and that the cardiac condition “was the cause of sudden death.”

In one of the other cases, myocarditis was believed to be the cause of death but researchers detected a herpes virus, an alternative explanation for the incidence of heart inflammation. The remaining case did not include an alternative explanation for the myocarditis but the researchers said the impact of the inflammation was “discrete and mainly observed in the pericardial fat.” They classified the two cases as possibly caused by vaccination.

“In general, a causal link between myocarditis and anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is supported by several considerations,” the researchers said, including the “close temporal relation to vaccination”; the “absence of any other significant pre-existing heart disease”; and the negative testing for any “myocarditis-causing infectious agents.”

Limitations included the small cohort size.

Other Autopsy Findings

Before the German study, other researchers around the world had reported findings from autopsies of people who died suddenly after vaccination.

In 2021, U.S. researchers reported two adults developed myocarditis within two weeks of COVID-19 vaccination, and they were unable to find causes other than vaccination.

In 2021, South Korea researchers reported that after examining the death of a 22-year-old man who died five days after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, they determined the primary cause was “myocarditis, causally-associated” with the vaccine.

In January, New Zealand researchers reported that the Pfizer vaccine was probably responsible for sudden myocarditis that led to the death of a 57-year-old woman, writing that “other causes have been discounted with reasonable certainty.”

In February, researchers in several U.S. states reported that two teenage boys who died shortly after receiving Pfizer’s vaccine experienced heart inflammation and that the inflammation was the primary cause of death.

In May 2022, CDC researchers reported that a young boy died after experiencing post-vaccination heart inflammation, with myocarditis being pegged as the cause of death.

In September 2022, a German researcher reported that a 55-year-old who died four months after receiving the Pfizer vaccine died of myocarditis and said “these findings indicate that myocarditis, as well as thrombo-embolic events following injection of spike-inducing gene-based vaccines, are causally associated with a[n] injurious immunological response to the encoded agent.”

And in December 2022, Japanese researchers reported on results from a 27-year-old man who died 28 days after admission following vaccination.

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination and Myocarditis in a Nordic Cohort Study of 23 Million Residents (JAMA)

In a cohort study (JAMA 2022) of 23.1 million residents across 4 Nordic countries, risk of myocarditis after the first and second doses of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines was highest in young males aged 16 to 24 years after the second dose.

The study concluded that the risk of myocarditis was highest in young males after the second SARS-CoV-2 vaccine dose, and this risk should be balanced against the benefits of protecting against severe COVID-19 disease.


References   

[1] Yonker, L. M., Swank, Z., Bartsch, Y. C., Burns, M. D., Kane, A., Boribong, B. P., ... & Walt, D. R. (2023). Circulating Spike Protein Detected in Post–COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Myocarditis. Circulation 

[2] Diorio, C., Henrickson, S. E., Vella, L. A., McNerney, K. O., Chase, J., Burudpakdee, C., ... & Bassiri, H. (2020). Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and COVID-19 are distinct presentations of SARS–CoV-2. The Journal of clinical investigation130(11), 5967-5975.  

[3] Avolio, E., Carrabba, M., Milligan, R., Kavanagh Williamson, M., Beltrami, A. P., Gupta, K., ... & Madeddu, P. (2021). The SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein disrupts human cardiac pericytes function through CD147 receptor-mediated signalling: a potential non-infective mechanism of COVID-19 microvascular disease. Clinical Science135(24), 2667-2689.  

[4] Trougakos, I. P., Terpos, E., Alexopoulos, H., Politou, M., Paraskevis, D., Scorilas, A., ... & Dimopoulos, M. A. (2022). Adverse effects of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines: the spike hypothesis. Trends in Molecular Medicine 

[5] Park, J. W., Lagniton, P. N., Liu, Y., & Xu, R. H. (2021). mRNA vaccines for COVID-19: what, why and how. International journal of biological sciences17(6), 1446.  

[6] Huynh, T. V., Rethi, L., Lee, T. W., Higa, S., Kao, Y. H., & Chen, Y. J. (2023). Spike Protein Impairs Mitochondrial Function in Human Cardiomyocytes: Mechanisms Underlying Cardiac Injury in COVID-19. Cells12(6), 877.  

[7] Bozkurt, B. (2023). Shedding Light on Mechanisms of Myocarditis With COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines. Circulation147(11), 877-880.


FLCCC I-Recover Protocol: Post Vaccine Treatment Protocol (2023)

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