Ask A Doctor: What Does Myocarditis Have To Do With COVID-19?

A UT Health San Antonio physician answers listeners’ questions about their health during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Michael MarksAugust 14, 2020 12:21 pm,

In this week’s installment of Ask a Doctor, UT Health San Antonio physician Dr. Fred Campbell answers more of Texas Standard listeners’ most pressing questions about the coronavirus.

Russia is preparing to release a COVID-19 vaccine. Will that vaccine be safe, and how does Russia’s testing and approval process compare to that of the United States’?

Campbell said he doesn’t believe that the vaccine developed in Russia would have been subject to the same testing standards the U.S. Food and Drug Administration imposes on vaccine candidates in the United States.

“We don’t always know how much testing Russia is doing on things like vaccinations, and so, unfortunately, this particular vaccine appears not to have been subjected to either the safety or efficacy standards that we would expect to get an FDA approval for a vaccination program in this country.”

Is there any sign the summer heat has slowed the spread of the coronavirus?

Viruses don’t often spread during the summer. But Campbell said that could be a result of people spending less time together indoors rather than a virus behaving differently in the heat. He said so far, summer heat has not slowed the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We’re seeing more cases, not fewer, unfortunately,” Campbell said.

What should we make of the state’s positivity rate – in other words, the percentage of COVID-19 tests performed in Texas that come back positive?

As of Aug. 12, the rate was 16.08%; on Aug. 11 it was 24.5%. The higher rate is partly the result of more testing. But it also reveals a spike in new cases that tend to come after holiday weekends when more people gather.

“That tells me that we will continue to see more and more hospitalizations and more serious cases of COVID-19 for weeks, probably months to come,” Campbell said.

What is myocarditis, and why are some college football teams worried about it?

Myocarditis is the inflammation of heart muscle. It can develop after a severe viral infection, including from the new coronavirus. It’s rare but can be dangerous, and possibly even lead to the need for a heart transplant. Several college football players and other college athletes have developed the condition recently, which has prompted college athletic programs and conferences to debate whether it’s safe to hold a fall sports season. Campbell said the condition is unlikely to affect many college athletes because of their age.

“Most COVID-19 infections in that age group have been very mild,” he said.

Campbell noted that a severe COVID-19 infection can also lead to other serious conditions besides myocarditis, including long-term damage to  lungs, kidneys and other organs.

Web story by Caroline Covington.

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