DOI: 10.1161/circ.148.suppl_1.13447 ISSN: 0009-7322

Abstract 13447: Political Orientation of Online Media Sources and Reporting of COVID-19 Vaccine Myocarditis

Muzna Hussain, Addison Matsumura, Ria Garg, Martin E Matsumura
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Background: Political orientation has played a role in patients' perceptions of risk associated with COVID-19 vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccine myocarditis (CVM). We examined the relationship between political orientation of popular online media outlets and reporting of CVM.

Methods: Media sites were classified as “left” or “right" biased using the Allsides media bias rating report. For each site “COVID vaccine myocarditis” was searched in articles posted 5/21-12/22. Each search return was reviewed for the following: 1) Did it contain numerical data or reference the source of numerical data regarding CVM risk? 2) Did it report benefits of covid vaccination? 3) Did it mention covid infection -related myocarditis? Monthly reports of vaccine-related adverse events were obtained directly from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Correlations of reports of left- vs. right-leaning media were performed using Pearson Product Moment Correlation.

Results: A total of 520 unique online reports regarding CVM were reviewed. Comparison of report volumes from left vs. right biased media sources by month during the assessment period demonstrated modest correlation (r=0.546, p=0.013), suggesting that monthly reporting volumes were driven by availability of information regarding CVM rather than media political alignment. Peak reporting across both left and right biased media was temporally proximate to peak volume of VAERS reporting. Left biased media sources were significantly more likely to include numerical data and/or links to source data vs. right biased sources (76.6% vs. 24.3%, p<0.001) and likewise were more likely to include data supporting benefits of covid vaccination (85.1% vs. 21.7%. p<0.001). In contrast, there was no difference regarding mention of COVID-19 infection-related myocarditis (24.5% vs. 24.3%, p=0.957).

Conclusion: Political orientation of online news sites was not associated with frequency of CVM reports but was significantly related to report content, most notably whether reports included numerical vs verbal representations of CVM risk. These bias-related reporting characteristics may contribute to the relationship between political orientation and patient understanding of risk of CVM.

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