Did Bronny James have a cardiac arrest from the COVID vaccine?
The conspiracy theory about young, male athletes and mRNA shots
I hate conspiracy theories. They make me nervous. So, I do not believe a COVID vaccine caused LeBron James’s 18-year-old son to have a cardiac arrest while playing basketball on Monday.
However, this case is a turning point as LeBron was publicly skeptical* about the vaccine before he got the jab. I now think it’s worthwhile to consider why so many people believe the shot is the cause of heart failure and death among young, male athletes.
Google Cardiac Arrest
No reputable news outlets covered the theory that LeBron “Bronny” James Jr. was sent to the ICU because of a vaccine “injury.” Nevertheless, “cardiac arrest” related to James was Google’s top trending search of the day (see below) because of the widespread concern about the vaccine’s side effects.
Bronny was treated by his college medical staff and then taken to the hospital, where he is now stabilized. He’s lucky to have gotten immediate treatment. Only 10% of people who have a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive, according to the American Heart Association.
While it is rare, the CDC reports that about 2,000 “seemingly healthy” people under age 25 die each year of sudden cardiac arrest. The Mayo Clinic states that “sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes” with estimates of 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 80,000.
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The media covered James and the vaccine only to mock or condemn Elon Musk, the Twitter (“X”) CEO, who raised the issue on Tuesday:
We cannot ascribe everything to the vaccine, but, by the same token, we cannot ascribe nothing. Myocarditis is a known side-effect. The only question is whether it is rare or common.
Musk, who spoke with the curiosity and concern of many people, got these headlines: Elon Musk Uses Bronny James’ Cardiac Arrest to Spread Anti-Vax Conspiracy Theory (“Rolling Stone”) and Elon Musk Immediately Spreads Vax Garbage After Bronny James' Medical Scare (“The Daily Beast.”)
But the public’s serious interest in the topic was evident in the trending topics on Twitter: Myocarditis, mRNA and Pfizer.
Vax Side Effects
Myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle, is one cause of cardiac arrest. The CDC says there is a “causal association between mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (i.e., Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) and myocarditis and pericarditis.” The government agency says these cases occurred:
most frequently in adolescent and young adult males within 7 days after receiving the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine; however, cases have also been observed after dose 1 and booster doses.
There’s also evidence that these heart ailments are caused by the virus itself. For example. this Penn State study says your risk of developing myocarditis is seven times higher from just getting infected with the virus than from getting the vaccine.
There have been many examples of young athletes with heart issues in the past few years that have fed the conspiracy theory. The most infamous was NFL player Damar Hamlin who collapsed during a game. Fans watched live as he was given CPR until an ambulance arrived on the field.
Now recovered, Hamlin tweeted about Bronny on Tuesday. “Prayers to Bronny & the James family as well. here for you guys just like you have been for me my entire process.”
Hamlin has said his cardiac arrest was caused by “commotio cordis” which the American Heart Association calls “a rare event caused by a blow to the chest.”
*LeBron was Vax Skeptic
I didn’t get a COVID vaccine, so it’s easier for me to ignore conspiracy theories and not worry about side effects. That’s not the case with Bronny’s father. LeBron, who refused to get vaccinated during the 2021 big push by the NBA, is