SINGAPORE – Senior infectious diseases specialist David Lye from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases has called out claims by a group of doctors behind an open letter arguing for a halt in the vaccination of Singapore’s youths, noting that they are “misleading” and “misinforming the public”.
In his Facebook post on Monday (June 28), Associate Professor Lye said that the doctors had “made up their own story” about a child’s death in the United States even though investigation into the cause has yet to conclude.
The open letter – posted on Facebook on Saturday by a doctor, Dr Kho Kwang Po – was addressed to Professor Benjamin Ong, chairman of the expert committee. It came after a 13-year-old American boy died days after he received his second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in the US.
The letter had called for a pause in Singapore’s vaccination exercise until the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and organisations elsewhere have produced more robust and convincing data on the case.
The letter was signed by Dr Kho; Dr Wong Wui Min, a cardiologist and heart specialist at W.M. Wong Cardiac and Medical Clinic in Gleneagles Hospital; Dr A.M. Chia; Dr L.W. Ping; and Dr I.W. Yang. It was said to be penned “on behalf of many concerned paediatricians, primary care physicians, specialists, surgeons and GPs”.
Responding to the letter on Monday (June 28), Prof Lye said that it is “the same small group of doctors” who were once again “misleading and misinforming the public”, noting that three of the doctors were involved in “an infamous letter by the group of 12”.
He was referring to an earlier letter published by 12 doctors calling for children to be given the traditional Covid vaccines, such as the Sinovac one, instead of the mRNA ones, which are Pfizer and Moderna.
They claimed that it was not known what side effects might surface 10 to 20 years down the road from these vaccines.
“There are very few effective treatments for children with Covid-19, unlike for adults,” said Prof Lye, noting that vaccination is the main protection for children.
He cited Israel as an example. It had initially not recommended vaccinating children, but is now rushing to do so after schools experienced outbreaks linked to the Delta variant.
Therefore, the doctors who had signed the open letter do not represent the majority of doctors and they should share their true motivation in repeatedly calling to stop mRNA vaccinations, said Prof Lye.
Prof Lye also said that the group of doctors had not given the full picture and they had omitted several important points, such as the risk-benefit conclusion presented by the CDC.
It was concluded that the benefits for vaccination in adolescents and young adults still continue to outweigh the risks, though continued monitoring of the long-term outcomes of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) after the mRNA vaccines will be important.
The Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination had on Sunday reiterated that there is a small risk of myocarditis and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart) associated with mRNA vaccines.
Four of the six cases of myocarditis and pericarditis among people vaccinated here involved men between 18 and 30 years old. All four reported symptoms of heart inflammation within a few days of receiving their second dose of the vaccines and have since recovered.
As such, the authorities, including the US Food and Drug Administration and CDC, as well as Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority and Ministry of Health have highlighted the slight risk, explained the risk benefit and advised counter measures.
These include refraining from strenuous exercise one week after the second dose and seeing a doctor if one feels unwell, said Prof Lye.
Citing a study published in the medical journal BMJ, he noted that the doctors had failed to point out what might happen if the Delta variant “sweeps through our children in massive outbreaks and overwhelms our hospitals”.
The peer-reviewed study provided an analysis of 129 studies from 31 countries involving more than 10,000 children.
Of these, 22.9 per cent were in intensive care and 3.6 per cent of them died.