Myocarditis Diagnoses Spiked in Military in 2021, New Data Show

Myocarditis Diagnoses Spiked in Military in 2021, New Data Show
U.S. Marines in Kin, Japan, in an undated image. (Carl Court/file/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

The rate of myocarditis spiked in the military in 2021, newly disclosed data show.

Diagnoses of myocarditis, a form of heart inflammation, jumped 130.5 percent in 2021 when compared to the average from the years 2016 to 2020, according to data from the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED).

The data was downloaded by a whistleblower and presented to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

Myocarditis is a serious condition that can lead to death.

All four of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States can cause myocarditis, according to U.S. officials. They added a warning for Johnson & Johnson’s shot this month.

COVID-19 can also cause myocarditis, though some experts say the data on that front is weaker.

The whistleblower downloaded the data from DMED in 2023, about a year after the Pentagon said it fixed a data corruption issue with the military health system.

The data also showed spikes in diagnoses of pulmonary embolism (41.2 percent), ovarian dysfunction (38.2 percent), and “complications and ill-defined descriptions of heart disease” (37.7 percent).

Johnson called the spike in diagnoses “concerning.”

The Pentagon and the Defense Health Agency, which manages the DMED, did not respond to requests for comment.

Difference in Percentages

The newly disclosed data also showed higher increases than the Pentagon previously reported.

The military, for instance, had claimed that the rate of pulmonary embolism had increased just 25.4 percent in 2021.

Both rates were much lower than the 468 percent increase that was among the shocking spikes in disease diagnoses identified by whistleblowers in 2022.

After the spikes were made public, military officials claimed the increases were not correct because some diagnoses in the years 2016 to 2020 had not been counted.

The undercounts stemmed from “corrupt” data, the military told Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in a 2022 letter. The problem was fixed in early 2022, officials said. They gave Johnson a list of percentage increases of 15 diagnoses on Feb. 15, 2022.

The newly disclosed data, though, showed higher increases than were reported on that list.

Diseases of the nervous system increased 9.5 percent in 2021, compared to the 5.7 percent the Pentagon had said, according to the whistleblower data. Hypertension increased 12.6 percent, not 1.9 percent. Testicular cancer increased 16.3 percent, not 3 percent.

Other rates were lower than the Pentagon reported. Female infertility, for example, was reported by officials as increasing in 2021 by 13.2 percent. But the new data shows an increase of 4.3 percent.

“The most recent DoD whistleblower provided my office with DMED data that showed different percent changes compared to what DoD provided last year,” Johnson, the top Republican on the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, wrote in a March 21 letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“It remains unclear how DoD calculated the percent changes for these specific registered diagnoses after the DMED data issue was allegedly fixed. Further, the recent whistleblower data highlighted above raises additional questions as to why the whistleblowers percent changes differ from DoD’s percent changes if the data source for both calculations was DMED,” he added.

Johnson asked Austin to provide answers by April 4.