Beware of those articles that claim a study has confirmed that vaccinations cause hepatitis in children

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A study would confirm that vaccination against Covid-19 causes “severe autoimmune hepatitis,” claim blog posts shared thousands of times, while cases of hepatitis in children from several countries have been identified in recent weeks. That’s wrong: The World Health Organization, the health authorities of several countries and three independent researchers told AFP that the hypothesis of a link between this hepatitis and vaccination is not supported because most affected children were not vaccinated. In addition, the study cited in the blog articles focuses on the specific case of an adult who developed a different type of hepatitis than affected children.

Study confirms COVID vaccine causes severe autoimmune hepatitis in children days after WHO issued a “global alert” on severe hepatitis” alarmed articles published on May 7 on several blogs (here, here, there, there), some of which have already been pinned by AFP for spreading false information related to the pandemic.

The articles, or some of their excerpts, were shared hundreds of times on Facebook, viewed thousands of times on Twitter (here, there, there) and viewed more than 95,000 times on Telegram channels (here, there) in less than a week.

Screenshot of the Le Libre Penseur website taken on 05/11/2022
Screenshot of the Courrier International website taken on 05/11/2022

Twitter screenshot taken on 05/11/2022

These publications in French are based on the translation of an article published on April 28 on the site “The Exposé”, which has already shared numerous inaccurate information on Covid-19 that have been the subject of review articles by the AFP, such as this one or that one.

Similar allegations circulated on social media in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Cases of hepatitis not related to the vaccine

These accusations are passed on when on April 23 the World Health Organization (WHO) drew attention to the presence of a strain of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) of unknown origin, mainly affecting children. As of May 11, the organization said it had identified 348 probable cases in 20 countries. Only six countries have registered more than five cases, but the UK has reported 160 patients

However, the vaccine is not one of the causes believed by scientists to explain these diseases., according to WHO. The organization stressed that the causes of this hepatitis are still under investigation, but the vaccine is not a hypothesis.because the vast majority of affected children have not received a vaccine against Covid-19”.

The WHO confirmed to AFP that “nothing suggesting a link” between vaccination and these forms of hepatitis.

From April 6, the UK health authorities (“UK Health Security Authority‘, or UKHSA) had warned of an increase in childhood hepatitis cases registered in the country since January and have since coordinated several studies and published investigative reports into these cases.

In an April 25 report, the agency also ruled out any link between the Covid vaccine and the hepatitis seen in these children. “There is no evidence linking it to the Covid-19 vaccine. To our knowledge, none of the confirmed cases in the UK have been vaccinated‘ we can read there.

A spokesman for the UK Health Authority confirmed to AFP that “there is no connection with the vaccine against Covid-19. None of the confirmed cases in children under the age of 10 in the UK involve people known to have been vaccinated“.

A six-year-old boy receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a hospital in Hartford, Connecticut on November 2, 2021 ( AFP / JOSEPH PREZIOSO)

In the United States, health authorities (“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” or CDC) also issued a notice for “to inform doctors and health authorities about a group of children with hepatitis and adenovirus infections“21.04.

On May 6, the CDC said it was investigating 109 cases of hepatitis found in children in 25 states and US territories, with an average age of two years, that had occurred in the past seven months. Most of the affected children were not eligible to be vaccinated against Covid-19 due to their age. In the United States, vaccination is open from the age of five.

A CDC spokeswoman, Kristen Nordlund, told AFP: “The children’s ages ranged from 11 months to 5 years and 9 months, and most are not eligible for vaccination against Covid-19“.

A possible connection with an adenovirus

On April 29, the CDC also released a study of nine cases of pediatric hepatitis of varying severity reported between October 2021 and February 2022 in Alabama known to cause gastroenteritis. Seven patients were also co-infected with other viruses.

Currently, we believe that adenovirus may be the cause of these reported cases of hepatitis, but other possible factors are still under investigation‘ the CDC said in a press release on the study.

On May 6, CDC Associate Director for Infectious Diseases, Jay Butler, asserted that “Vaccination against Covid-19 is not the cause” of this hepatitis, adding that he wanted to put an end to the rumors circulating on the Internet on the subject.

The US CDC Emergency Operations Center in Atlanta, Georgia on March 19, 2021. (AFP / Eric BARADAT)

At present, the main hypotheses remain those concerning adenovirusalso important to consider the role of Covid, either as a co-infection or as a prior infectionconfirmed Philippa Easterbrook of the WHO Global Hepatitis Program during a May 11 press conference.

In France from May 11 “As of January 1, 2022, no excessive visits to the emergency room or hospital were detected compared to previous years (2018-2021).“, according to Public Health France.

A case study of a man with a different type of hepatitis

Articles shared on social media point to a case study of a 52-year-old man who developed autoimmune hepatitis after being infected with Covid-19 and being vaccinated against the disease.

However, according to several researchers interviewed by AFP, the type of hepatitis contracted by the man whose case was examined in this study is not the same as that reported by children’s health authorities.

American pediatric transplant hepatologist Sara Hassan, of the pediatric department at the Mayo Clinic, a highly respected university hospital and research association in the United States, told AFP The illness contracted by the man in this case study differs from pediatric cases of hepatitis reported by health authorities.

This research, conducted on an adult, seeks to establish a link between the vaccines against Covid-19 and autoimmune hepatitis, which is a separate entity“Hepatitis, which affects children in several countries, according to the researcher.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that in most cases is of viral origin, although the disease can sometimes be caused by toxic substances, points out a page of the Inserm website dedicated to acute hepatitis that has been occurring in patients in recent weeks has been identified.

So far, five viruses have been identified that can cause this targeted liver infection and inflammation. They are denoted by the letters A, B, C, D and E and do not share the same mode of transmission or aggressiveness“, says the Inserm side. Hepatitis is also said there.”not alphabetically“because viruses A, B, C, D or E are not found in patients.”That seems to be taking shape [dans le cas de ces hépatites pédiatriques]even if the data is still fragmentary‘ Inserm notes.

The hepatitis studied in people infected with Covid-19 and vaccinated is autoimmune, meaning it results from a malfunction in the immune system, Rima Fawaz, medical director of Yale American University’s Division of Pediatric Hepatology, told AFP.

Autoimmune hepatitis is “Immune dysregulation, where your body has an abnormal response and you attack your liver“Children whose cases have been reported by health authorities show contagious symptoms such as fever and are treated differently, according to Rima Fawaz.

This case study and the data known so far do not support the idea that the recently reported cases of pediatric hepatitis could be linked to vaccines against Covid-19, the researcher concludes. “To say that it is related to the vaccination against Covid-19 makes no sense.“, according to her.

Infectious disease specialist John Swartzberg of the American University of California at Berkeley agrees. According to him, the hepatitis reported in children and the only case of autoimmune hepatitis identified in a man who was vaccinated against Covid-19, “without connection” and “have nothing to do with each other“.

The professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Public Health also believes that the case of autoimmune hepatitis reported in the study after vaccination against Covid-19 was not “absolutely not“Stopping people from getting vaccinated.”The risks of contracting Covid-19 far outweigh the risks associated with vaccination‘ he concludes.

AFP has reviewed hundreds of other misleading claims related to the Covid-19 pandemic, most recently about “Pfizer documents‘, misrepresented as a disclosure of the dangers of vaccines.

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