A coroner has found a 26-year-old Dunedin man died of myocarditis, due to vaccination with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
Rory Nairn died at his home in November last year after receiving his first dose of the vaccine.
He had experienced myocarditis-like symptoms for nearly a fortnight following his jab, which he received on November 5.
Myocarditis is a rare side effect of the vaccine involving the heart.
Coroner Sue Johnson opened an inquiry into his death, not to determine civil, criminal or disciplinary liability but to establish when and where Rory died and the cause and circumstances around his death.
The inquest lasted three days in the High Court at Dunedin and heard from witnesses including Nairn's fiancé Ashleigh Wilson, the person who vaccinated him, Medsafe and Te Whatu Ora Southern.
The inquiry was a fact-finding exercise to consider whether the coroner needs to make specified recommendations which may reduce the chances of further deaths in similar circumstances from happening again.
Johnson today released her findings into the cause of Nairn's death in which she states "I am satisfied from the written evidence I have received, and the oral evidence heard at inquest that I have sufficient evidence to now establish the following: A. Where Rory died; B. When Rory died; C. The cause of Rory’s death".
Vaccine caused myocarditis - coroner
After hearing evidence from pathologist Dr Noelyn Hung, Johnson said she is satisfied that the Covid-19 vaccine caused the myocarditis from which Nairn died.
In Nairn's post-mortem examination, Hung saw mild atherosclerosis of the aorta and a slight bulge in the small intestine.
In her expert opinion, neither of these were related to Nairn's death.
Samples were also taken, which confirmed caffeine and cotinine (a metabolite of nicotine) were in his blood.
No alcohol, cannabis, synthetic cannabis or any other drugs were detected.
Inspection of the heart muscle and outer lining of the heart showed myocarditis and pericarditis.
Hung then carried out an intensive pathological examination of the heart.
She stated that the cause of the myocarditis came down to a diagnosis by exclusion.
There is no current test that will show the Covid-19 vaccine in the heart tissue, but Hung was able to exclude other causes of myocarditis such as rheumatic fever or by infection as there was no sign of bacteria, virus or fungi.
Hung also excluded all other known potential causes including certain medicines such as the anti-psychotic medications clozapine and risperidone.
She microscopically examined tissue samples from other parts of his body including his lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys.
There was no sign of any infection or any other reason for Nairn's death except in the myocardium (the middle muscular layer of the heart).
Johnson accepted Hung's medical opinion that the direct cause of Nairn's death was acute myocarditis - consistent with vaccine-related myocarditis.
Johnson also released her findings on where and when Nairn died.
Wilson found Nairn in the bathroom of their Dunedin home at around 4am on November 17.
He was unresponsive and she called an ambulance.
During the inquest, the court heard Nairn woke twice on the night he died complaining of a weird feeling in his chest.
Wilson insisted they went to hospital for reassurance.
Nairn agreed, but used the bathroom before they left the house.
“I then heard a loud heaving like noise and thought that Rory was vomiting. I ran to the bathroom and I was unable to open the door,” Wilson explained.
“I heard Rory's body fall to the ground. I was yelling his name but he was unresponsive, so I called 111.”
She was told to get into the bathroom, but was unable to.
“I was able to see Rory. Through the crack of the door I could see that he was dead.”
First responders administered CPR, but 40 minutes later, they pronounced him dead.
Johnson is still yet to establish, as part of her wider inquiry, the circumstances around Nairn's death, whether it could have been prevented, and if any recommendations or comments are required.
Although her inquiry is still ongoing, Johnson said "given the public interest in whether or not Rory’s death was related to the Covid-19 vaccination he received on 5 November 2021, I consider it important to make public my findings as to the cause of Rory’s death as soon as I established it".
Johnson is still yet to hear from further experts including a cardiologist, to find out how treatable myocarditis is if it's diagnosed, to determine what options Nairn might have had if he'd presented to a health practitioner with myocarditis symptoms.
Myocarditis and pericarditis are rare side effects involving the heart. The rate in New Zealand is reported to be around three per 100,000 vaccinations or 0.003% and can be treated if picked up early.
According to the Heart Foundation, most cases are mild and do not require treatment. The risk of myocarditis is significantly higher in those who contract Covid-19 while unvaccinated.