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PSU doctor apologizes for confusion

From Mirror reports

Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Penn State’s director of athletic medicine, made national news Thursday by saying “30 to 35 percent” of Big Ten athletes who tested positive for the coronavirus were also diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscles and a main concern that caused the Big Ten to postpone its football and fall sports season.

Sebastianelli made his comments via video to the State College Area School District School Board on Monday night, according to the Centre Daily Times.

They went viral on Thursday, and just as quickly, Penn State refuted them.

“During his discussion with board members, he recalled initial preliminary data that had been verbally shared by a colleague on a forthcoming study, which unbeknownst to him at the time had been published at a lower rate,” Penn State said Thursday in a statement to ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura.

“The research was not conducted by Dr. Sebastianelli or Penn State. Dr. Sebastianelli wishes to clarify this point and apologize for any confusion.”

Penn State’s statement to ESPN went on to say that no Penn State players who tested positive for COVID-19 has myocarditis.

Sebastianelli was asked for his input by the State College board, which has been wrestling with whether to allow in-person classes, on the coronavirus. After a preliminary meeting Monday, a six-hour meeting was held Wednesday, and a final determination has not yet been made.

“When we looked at our COVID-positive athletes, whether they were symptomatic or not, 30 to roughly 35 percent of their heart muscles (were) inflamed,” Sebastianelli told the board, as reported by the CDT. “And we really just don’t know what to do with it right now. It’s still very early in the infection. Some of that has led to the Pac-12 and the Big Ten’s decision to sort of put a hiatus on what’s happening.”

Penn State was one of 11 Big Ten schools that voted for fall postponement. Three schools — Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa — voted to play.

However, Sebastianelli did not have input into Penn State’s decision.

“I have had no direct conversation with (Penn State) President (Eric) Barron on this topic,” Sebastianelli told the CDT in an email. “But needless to say we all have concerns for the health and safety of every PSU student-athlete, as well as those at every level of competition; this is a public health issue.”

In a video of Sebastinaelli’s comments to the school board, he also expressed uncertainty about what the long-term effect of myocarditis really is and added that “many cardiologists feel this is a finding that is incidental and may not warrant any further investigation or concern. And they’ll let somebody compete again.”

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