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On Damar Hamlin, mRNA shots, and spin
A young man collapsed playing football before our eyes last night; and the immediate public response of those who have pressed Covid vaccines was to seek an explanation that did not involve the jabs.
For Covid vaccine supporters, Monday night marked a new low.
Maybe you saw the play firsthand. Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin tackled Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins. The hit was violent, but nothing extraordinary, a routinely violent hit in a routinely violent game where players regularly break bones and knock each other out.
Hamlin stood. He took a half-step. Then he collapsed onto his back. He didn’t try to protect himself as he went down. Within seconds, everyone on the field understood this was not a typical football injury.
I didn’t see Hamlin’s collapse live. I turned the game on maybe three minutes later. (I was unaware of what had happened. I just wanted to watch the Bills and Bengals.) ABC was in commercial, came back, and quickly cut to commercial again. When they returned again an ambulance was on the field and the announcers were speaking in the quiet tones that mean disaster has struck.
When I saw the video of what had happened, my immediate reaction - beyond fear for Hamlin’s life - was, I suspect, the same as most of yours. Had Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest? Were the mRNA vaccines ultimately responsible, perhaps by causing myocarditis that left him vulnerable?
My second reaction was: this is not the moment to discuss these questions. At the time, no one could even be certain if Hamlin was alive. I said as much on Twitter, as the teams disappeared into their locker rooms and the stadium remained silent and the National Football League called the game off (a step that took far too long):
(JOIN THE FIGHT FOR HONEST REPORTING AND OPEN DEBATE! JOIN UNREPORTED TRUTHS!_
Then I started to see the tweets.
A few came from vaccine skeptics and mentioned mRNA. But more came from physicians - mostly the same “MedTwitter” physicians who have been strongly public vaccine advocates - diagnosing Hamlin’s collapse as a case of commotio cordis, an interruption in the heart’s electrical rhythm caused by sudden impact to the chest wall.
The subtext to these tweets, which in some cases was not even subtext but stated openly, was: the vaccines did not cause what you just saw. And if you even consider that possibility, much less say so out loud, you are a ghoul. Commotio cordis, fine. Vaccine-caused heart damage, not fine.
I was stunned.
I’d expected that mRNA vaccine advocates - a group that includes nearly the entire media - would try to grab the narrative around Hamlin’s collapse quickly. But before we knew whether he was still alive?
Of course they felt they had no choice.
Football is the most important sport in the United States, a cultural and economic driver like no other. An audience in the range of 20 million people saw Hamlin’s collapse live, and tens of millions more afterwards. Most people are only vaguely aware of the (now-confirmed) risks of mRNA vaccines and myocarditis in young men. Allowing open discussion of the issue in this context would probably do more to damage confidence in the Covid vaccines than anything that has happened so far.
Thus commotio cordis.
It is certainly possible that Damar (not Demar, Damar) Hamlin suffered commotio cordis - which is unrelated to myocarditis or any potential vaccine injury.
But commotio cordis is exceptionally rare. A 2012 paper reported that it occurred fewer than 20 times a year in the United States.
Even that figure overstates the likelihood that Hamlin suffered the injury, because it is generally occurs in preteen and teen boys, not adult men, and not in football but in sports that use a puck or a ball like hockey or baseball. In 2013, researchers reported that 243 high school and college football players had died between 1990 and 2010. Seven of those deaths resulted from commotio cordis, for an average rate of 1 death per 3 million players.
Again, those odds do not rule out the possibility that Hamlin suffered commotio cordis. But they highlight the risk of making any uninformed public diagnosis. This risk applies doubly to physicians, who are generally discouraged from making public diagnoses of people they haven’t treated (especially psychiatrists, whose code of conduct bars them from offering public opinions on people they haven’t examined). Note that Dr. Reiner carefully phrased his tweet so as not to offer an explicit diagnosis.
Less than two hours later, however, he decided to go on the attack:
Dr. Reiner knows!
He knows the Covid jabs that he pressed colleges to mandate for their students and employees to mandate for their workers could not have caused Damar Hamlin’s injury. Reiner doesn’t need to examine Hamlin or see his medical records or talk to his family. He knows. And he wants anyone with questions about what happened to climb under a rock so he can push his spin on CNN unchallenged.
As of this writing, Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
The cause of his cardiac arrest is unknown.