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Efeso Collins’ sudden death sparks speculation about the cause

In brief
  • Rumours on social media are circulating about what may have caused the sudden passing of Efeso Collins. 
  • The COVID virus may cause potentially fatal heart damage, regardless of vaccinations. 
  • It’s recommended people approach strenuous exercise cautiously post COVID infection or vaccination. 
  • The speculation adds fuel to the need for a COVID inquiry to address concerns and misinformation about sudden deaths.

Condolences and shock in the community

Centrist and News Essentials extend our deepest condolences to the family, colleagues, and friends of Green Party MP Fa’anānā Efeso Collins. His sudden passing at the age of 49 following a charity run in Auckland on 22 February 2024 has sent shockwaves through the community.

Speculation on causes

Ultimately, the question is, if Collins did suffer from sudden heart failure,  what caused it? And could it have been prevented? 

All of this is highly controversial with near religious belief on both sides. We do not purport to know the answer but do think there are some perspectives, not often talked about, that are worth mentioning. 

Heart damage historic links to the influenza virus

The link between myocarditis and influenza is well documented.

Media reports as far back as the 1900s detail tragic cases of the fit and healthy struck down by heart failure after suffering an influenza infection.

Acute myocarditis as a known complication of influenza infection was documented during the Spanish flu pandemic, the 1957 Asian influenza pandemic and the 2009 H1N1 ‘Swine flu’ pandemic. Seasonal influenza has also been linked to myocarditis, albeit rarely.

Research warns of COVID-related heart damage despite vaccination

According to the Cleveland Clinic

“A severe or even mild case of COVID-19 can make you more likely to have heart failure or a heart attack. It’s very rare for the virus that causes COVID-19 to infect your heart muscle. But the virus can cause problems throughout your body that lead to heart damage.

“Even if you’ve never had heart issues before, you can have heart problems after COVID. But if you have cardiovascular disease, you face the greatest risk of heart problems. If you have heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity or high cholesterol, you also face a higher risk of serious complications. COVID-19 can impact your heart while you’re sick but also after the virus has left your body.”

A joint US/NZ study titled “COVID-Related Athletic Deaths: Another Perfect Storm?” highlights concerns about myocarditis risks from both COVID infection and vaccination, particularly among athletes. 

Health professionals urge caution with physical activity after COVID or influenza infection, highlighting the risk of fatal heart complications from exercising, like running, during or soon after the acute phase, regardless of vaccination status.

Long-term effects of COVID on heart health

COVID’s lasting impact on heart health raises concerns, with recent research showing over half of hospitalised cases from variants up to and including Delta exhibiting persistent myocardial damage.

Symptoms of vaccine-related heart damage

While there is speculation on whether COVID vaccines played a role, as seen on social media, it’s essential to emphasize that the phenomenon of vaccine-related heart damage is yet to be fully understood. At this time, symptoms of such damage seem to typically manifest shortly after vaccination. Therefore, if a person suffers fatal vaccine-related heart damage, it is generally assumed they received a vaccination or booster only a few days or weeks prior.

Comparison between vaccine-related and COVID-related Myocarditis

While vaccine-related myocarditis remains a concern, some studies indicate lower prevalence and severity compared to COVID infection itself. For instance, an Israeli study reported a vaccine myocarditis prevalence of 0.002%, significantly lower than observed in recovered COVID patients. However, this is a relatively new field of study and is controversial. We include references here for your information and are not drawing any conclusions ourselves.

Call for comprehensive inquiry

Speculation surrounding Collins’ tragic passing further illustrates the importance  for a comprehensive NZ COVID inquiry. This is because it is in somewhat of a unique position to conduct a thorough study that both sides of the argument could agree provides meaning information.  certainty.

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