Fact Check-Study using Israeli emergency services data does not prove COVID-19 vaccines cause heart problems

Social media users who are sharing a recently published study that they are falsely claiming proves COVID-19 vaccines cause heart problems.

Examples can be seen (here) and (here).

The social media posts link to an article by “Just the News” titled, “MIT study finds COVID vaccines 'significantly associated' with jump in emergency heart problems” (here).

The study titled “Increased emergency cardiovascular events among under-40 population in Israel during vaccine rollout and third COVID-19 wave” was published on April 28, 2022 and can be seen (here).

The study examines a dataset from Israel’s National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) between 2019 and 2021 focusing on “the association between the volume of cardiac arrest and acute coronary syndrome EMS calls in the 16–39-year-old population with potential factors including COVID-19 infection and vaccination rates.”

The authors of the study found an increase of more than 25% for such calls during January to May 2021 compared with 2019-2020. They note that “while not establishing causal relationships, the findings raise concerns regarding vaccine-induced undetected severe cardiovascular side-effects and underscore the already established causal relationship between vaccines and myocarditis”.

The study itself does not prove a correlation with COVID-19 vaccines, though social media posts suggest that it does.

The authors themselves outline the challenges faced in measuring the association of myocarditis and other cardiovascular conditions with the COVID-19 vaccine. They include that: 1) "self-reporting systems of adverse events are known to have self-reporting bias and both under and over-reporting problems" (Reuters has explored the issues with using open-source reporting systems, here ); 2) "myocarditis is a particularly insidious disease with multiple reported manifestations" - for example, is often underdiagnosed; and 3) "myocardial injury and myocarditis is prevalent among patients with COVID-19 infection" and waves of infection overlapped with waves of inoculation.

The study does not examine what may have caused the heart issues – infection or vaccination, nor does it examine or account for any other possible causes of increased cardiac events in this age group.

The study has been criticized online for not proving a correlation between COVID-19 vaccines and heart problems that prompted ambulance calls ( (here).

Dr Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, told Reuters via email that it is “Rather bizarre to study cardiac events (at) a population level, without individual assessment of whether they were linked to covid or vaccination.”

Gurdasani said many large scale studies have been done showing consistent measures for vaccine associated myocarditis, as well as COVID-19 associated illness and myocarditis, which is likely to be more severe, and that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks.

“This study doesn’t add anything, and with its ecological design will not be able to assign causality to any factor – by contrast to other studies that have studied this at individual level accounting for previous covid and vaccination in individuals,” Gurdasani said.

Reuters Fact Check published an explainer on what we know so far about myocarditis and COVID-19 vaccines (here).

The overall risks of COVID-19 infection far outweigh the risks associated with developing myocarditis after a COVID-19 vaccination, even for young men, experts say.

Christina Pagel, professor of operational research at University College London, told Reuters: “There have been several high-quality studies now from many countries looking at individual level data on cardiac outcomes following vaccination and following Covid and their conclusions are clear and consistent – there is an elevated risk of myocarditis after mRNA vaccination in younger people (particularly men) but it is tiny and much lower than the risk of myocarditis from Covid.” She said in an email to Reuters: “The benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risks in these cohorts.”

Retsef Levi, professor of operations management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and one of the authors of the study, told Reuters via email that the correlation they found did not prove causality.

“Let me emphasize that I do not support any interpretation of the paper as a proof that the vaccine has caused this increase in EMS calls,” Levi said. “The paper only calls to check the matter broadly and explore all possible causes.”

On May 5, 2022, a note was added to the study. It reads: “Readers are alerted that the conclusions of this article are subject to criticisms that are being considered by the Editors. A further editorial response will follow once all parties have been given an opportunity to respond in full.” (here)


Misleading. A study noting an increase in ambulance calls for cardiovascular problems during January to May 2021 does not provide proof that this was caused by the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .