[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]
The number of patients with pericarditis that occur following Covid-19 vaccination has increased sharply in Korea this year, raising alarm about vaccine side effects.
Pericarditis was recently recognized as one of the side effects from Covid-19 vaccines.
According to data from Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service (HIRA) on Friday, the number of pericarditis patients nearly doubled to 3,582 in the first six months of this year from 1,942 a year ago, when the mRNA vaccinations began in earnest.
Pericarditis, which is inflammation of pericardium, a sac-like tissue surrounding the heart, often causes sharp and stabbing chest pain. Some people may show symptoms of shortness of breath, fever, and body aches.
Since the Covid-19 vaccination program began last year, reports of suspected side effects flooded into health authorities, but they officially recognized only pericarditis as a side effect after mRNA vaccination in May of this year.
The medical community demands that the government should be more active in relieving side effects caused by Covid-19 vaccines. It also calls for aggressive investigations into other side effects suspected of being related to vaccination, such as autoimmune diseases, leukemia, and cerebral hemorrhage.
The cumulative number of claims for damage compensation due to Covid-19 inoculation totaled 81,383 cases in Korea as of July 26. Of these, 59,425 cases or 73 percent underwent deliberation by an expert panel, and 19,617 cases or 33 percent were accepted for compensation.
Among the adverse reactions reported to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) until July 30, a total of 1,762 deaths were reported, but only seven cases have been recognized as deaths from vaccine side effects.
Since government statistics include some cases of suspected pericarditis, it is difficult to consider all reports as cases of pericarditis, said an KDCA official, adding that an expert panel investigation found there were 192 cases of pericarditis reported to the KDCA as of May and all their symptoms were relatively mild.
By Yoo Joo-yeon and Minu Kim
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]