January 31, 2023

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Opinion: Stop using Hamlin’s cardiac arrest in the anti-vaccination agenda

Editor’s note: Jonathan Rayner, MD, is a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University. The opinions expressed in this comment belong to the author. Show more Opinion on CNN.



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The survival and recovery of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, after he collapsed during a Monday Night Football game last week, was a happy, yet very real, proof of the importance of immediate CPR and immediate defibrillation in the critical first few minutes following sudden cardiac arrest. But while Hamlin’s near-death experience afflicted his family, teammates, the NFL and the millions of people who witnessed his anguish live on television, for others it became just another flimsy opportunity to promote vaccine misinformation.

If you don’t know how to perform CPR, watch this

In the first quarter of the game, with the Cincinnati Bengals leading the Bills 7-3, Bengals wide receiver Ty Higgins short pass From quarterback Joe Borough. Hamlin sprinted towards him and met Higgins at the 50-yard line. Both players looked ready for impact, with Higgins lowering his right shoulder and Hamlin spreading his arms to tackle. As they collided, Higgins’ blow was absorbed by Hamlin’s left chest and both players fell.

For those watching the match, it looked like a routine play. But a second or two after Hamlin got to his feet, he suddenly fell backwards onto the grass.

The subsequent televised effort to save the 24-year-old’s life was heroic but hard to watch, culminating several minutes later – which seemed like an eternity – in his evacuation from the field by ambulance.

As stunned ESPN commentators and fans around the world tried to make sense of what they had just witnessed, the internet erupted with a storm of baseless rumors.

Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, quickly parroted an unsubstantiated anti-vaccine conspiracy theory, Twitter, “This is a tragic and all too familiar scene now: the athletes suddenly fall.” The tweet has been viewed nearly 12 million times.

Dr. David Drew Pinsky (aka “Dr. Drew”), internist and television personality, chirp Similar language, “Very disturbing. Another athlete suddenly fell.”

Although the tweets did not explicitly mention Covid-19 vaccines, the effects were evident today.

Former New York Times columnist W Prolific vaccine discount Alex Berenson Written on Substack The next day, “When I saw the video of what had happened, my immediate reaction—other than fear for Hamlin’s life—I suspect, was the same as most of you. Did Hamlin have a heart attack? Were mRNA vaccines ultimately responsible, perhaps for by causing myocarditis that made him vulnerable.”

and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia chirp: “Before Covid vaccines, we didn’t see athletes die on the field like we do now… How many people die suddenly? It’s time to investigate Covid vaccines.”

Throughout the pandemic, right-wing media and personalities have repeatedly questioned the safety of Covid-19 mRNA vaccines, amplifying unsubstantiated claims by vaccine skeptics. On Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program the night after Hamlin collapsed, Dr. Peter McCullough, a Dallas cardiologist and outspoken critic of Covid-19 vaccines, suggested that “vaccine-induced myocarditis” might have caused Hamlin’s seizure.

Carlson he told his audienceHamlin was still lying in the field, receiving CPR when self-described medical experts in the media, people with absolutely no proven medical ethics, effectively witch doctors, decided to use his tragic, life-threatening injuries as an opportunity to spread more publicity. About the covid shots They told you ‘it can’t be the shot.’ ‘Shut up.’ But they lie. They don’t know it.”

during the same show, Carlson hints that athletes are dying from the Covid-19 vaccine, “Since the Vax campaign began, there have been more than 1,500 cases of cardiac arrest in those tournaments and two-thirds of them were fatal,” he claimed.

those statistics about athletes’ deathspromoted by Carlson, is taken from a letter published in a Scandinavian journal, the sole attribution of which is “GoodSciencing.com” (as reliable as it sounds).

This is not the first time a tragedy has been used to promote misinformation about a Covid-19 vaccine. In December, in the aftermath of the sudden death of football journalist Grant Wahl, social media was ablaze with cruel and false rumors that Wahl’s death had been caused by vaccinations championed by his wife, Dr. Celine Gunder.

A New York autopsy then found that Wahl had died of an unrelated aortic rupture.

like Gunder noted in her opinion piece later Wrote for The New York Timesshe wanted to share the truth about the cause of her husband’s death to quash the rumors that it was a result of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The truth is, there is no evidence to suggest that athletes have died from vaccines, and much is known about their safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, More than 650 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Managed in the United States, their safety profiles are well documented. Possible vaccine adverse events are collected by Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Earlier this week, Hamlin, who has since returned home from the hospital, underwent a “comprehensive medical evaluation,” according to the bills, but There is no cause for a cardiac arrest It has been announced. However, it remains likely that Hamlin’s cardiac arrest just seconds after absorbing Higgins’ blow, was the result of “commutio cordis”. This uncommon, but well-described phenomenon, named from the Latin for “excitement of the heart,” is the result of a fatal arrhythmia resulting from shock to the chest at a delicate, fragile moment in the heart’s electrical cycle.

So why did Hamlin do so well? The short answer is that he was lucky to collapse within steps of a large staff of trained medical responders who, realizing he was in cardiac arrest, quickly initiated CPR and then resuscitated him with an automated external defibrillator.

Reportedly, when Hamlin first woke up in the hospital he asked, “Who won?” Now we know. Hamlin won.

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