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'Egregious and false claims': MOH rejects People's Power Party's call to suspend Covid-19 vaccination

'Egregious and false claims': MOH rejects People's Power Party's call to suspend Covid-19 vaccination
MOH has dismissed calls made by the People's Power Party to temporarily suspend Singapore's Covid-19 vaccination programme.
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

The Ministry of Heath has rejected calls by the People's Power Party (PPP) to temporarily suspend Singapore's Covid-19 vaccination programme. 

The political party, founded by Goh Meng Seng, issued a statement on May 29 calling for MOH and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to halt the administering of vaccines in lieu of the "increasing" number of reports regarding the adverse effects associated with the vaccine. 

It cited "studies and analyses by prominent medical experts”, which claimed that Covid-19 vaccines caused high incidences of severe side effects.

The party also claimed that Singapore had been experiencing "unusual and exceptionally high excess deaths of at least 20 per cent when the Covid-19 vaccine was introduced". 

In a statement on Monday (June 3), the Health Ministry dismissed the PPP's claims as "egregious and false". 

It pointed out that Singapore recorded one of the lowest excess death rates in the world during the pandemic as the majority of Singaporeans were vaccinated. 

"The high level of vaccine protection in our society averted many Covid-19 related deaths, protected our healthcare system from being overwhelmed, and allowed us to preserve lives and livelihoods."

Among the Covid-19 deaths in Singapore, there was an "over-representation" of people who were not fully vaccinated, added MOH, reflecting that they were more likely to die from Covid-19 infection compared to patients who were fully vaccinated. 

MOH also noted that there were twice the number of unvaccinated seniors hospitalised and admitted to the ICU during the JN.1 wave of the virus, which peaked in December 2023, compared to those who kept their vaccinations updated. 

"Covid-19 waves occur from time to time and can cause severe disease among those who are older or medically vulnerable. The vaccines will be able to protect individuals and prevent deaths," said the ministry.

Singapore is currently riding the FLiRT wave, comprising of the KP.1 and KP.2 strains, and the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations has gone up in recent weeks.

'Transparent' in reporting side effects

In their statement, MOH acknowledged that there will be side effects to any vaccination - adding that they have been transparent about reporting the incidence of such cases. 

Prior to the report published by HSA in July 2023 about the safety profiles of the vaccines, MOH had regularly reported on the side effects of the vaccines, which have been "mild". 

"The reporting rates of severe side effects remained rare at seven per 100,000 doses. Most recovered smoothly after rest and treatment," said the ministry.

"In particular, we highlighted the relatively higher incidence of myocarditis amongst young males, at about one in 100,000 doses." 

Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle, which reduces the ability of the heart to pump blood.

According to real-world data in the United States, young men aged 18 to 29 had seven to eight times the risk of myocarditis or pericarditis (swelling and irritation of the thin, saclike tissue surrounding the heart) after Covid-19 infection, compared to after getting vaccinated. 

Another systematic review also showed that the risk of myocarditis is more than seven times higher in people infected by Covid-19 than those who were vaccinated. 

"In comparison, the long-term effects of Covid-19 infections without the protection of the vaccines can be much worse, with patients registering heart, respiratory and other complications post-infection, [known as] 'long-Covid'," MOH said.

Articles cited by PPP from authors promoting anti-vaccine messages 

MOH also called out several groups who have been spreading misinformation about the vaccines, which is typically done by quoting literature out of context, or sharing material from non-credible sources. 

The PPP had listed several scientific articles from medical practitioners in their statement to support their claims. 

"We note that the list of scientific articles cited by the People's Power Party were mostly from the same group of authors, including some who have been reported to be promoting messages against Covid-19 vaccination," said MOH, which urged the public to verify information found online against authoritative sources. 

READ ALSO: Around 280 people warded for Covid-19, seniors should get another vaccine shot: Ong Ye Kung

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