The Singapore government’s expert committee on coronavirus vaccination said in response to an open letter by a group of doctors that the benefits of receiving an mRNA coronavirus vaccine continue to outweigh the risks of getting immunized, say the media reports.
Channel News Asia reported on Monday that earlier this month the possibility that the second dose of mRNA vaccines may be associated with a small risk of myocarditis and pericarditis in young men was highlighted was being highlighted by the committee.
The inflammatory conditions that affect the heart muscles and the outer lining of the heart respectively are Myocarditis and pericarditis.
The committee said, “The assessment after our review is that the benefits of receiving the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines continue to outweigh the risks of vaccination.”
“Data on myocarditis and pericarditis has not changed since, and the Expert Committee’s assessment remains the same.”
The committee’s response came in the wake of an open letter circulating on social media that was attributed to a group of doctors, including one cardiologist that calling for a halt in in COVID-19 vaccinations of Singapore’s youth, following reports of the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention’s investigations into the death of a 13-year-old boy after being vaccinated with the second dose of an mRNA vaccine.
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are the vaccines that are being used by Singapore for its national vaccination programme, which are both mRNA-based vaccines. The recent international reports of the association between myocarditis and the second dose of mRNA vaccines in young men was also highlighted in the response.
“The social media post indicated that the 13-year-old male from the US had died from heart failure, although no cause of death has been made public and the case is currently under investigation by the US authorities,” said the committee.
“Professional medical associations in the US, including the American College of Paediatrics and the American Heart Association in the US have continued to strongly encourage vaccination in everyone aged 12 years and older,” the news channel quoted the committee as saying.
The US data also shows that cases of myocarditis following mRNA vaccinations are occasional, with almost all such cases being resolved with minimal medical intervention, it said.
It has been recommended by the expert committee that teens and younger men those who are vaccinated, should avoid vigorous physical activities for one week after their second dose. However, the use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for young men is recommended to be continued by the committee.
Along with that medical attention should be taken immediately if they develop any symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath or abnormal heartbeats. The committee will continue to monitor the data and check the reviews of its recommendations when required.
TODAY newspaper said quoted the infectious disease experts that without more scientific data supporting the exact parameters for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
However, the target was shifted last Thursday, to a stage when two-thirds of the population are vaccinated with two doses, as the authorities have managed to bring forward the delivery of vaccine supplies. The task force said that two-thirds of the population are expected to have received the vaccine doses by National Day on August 9 and Singapore is going to reach the milestone soon.
However, it was suggested by one expert, that the “magic number” should be set higher, at 80 per cent.
An infectious diseases specialist from Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Dr Leong Hoe Nam, is calling for a “more cautious” stance as he fears that opening up too early might stress the healthcare system.
He said, noting that the Delta variant of the coronavirus that originated in India is more transmissible by at least 60 per cent, “Once the healthcare system is overloaded, everything will crash very quickly.”
It was also pointed out that various scientists had asked for a herd immunity of 70 to 90 per cent before opening up, but as Singapore has a relatively small number of community (local) cases, its population relies principally on vaccines for protection.
“If you think about it, it is a figment of our imagination to think that humans are in control of the virus. As of Sunday, Singapore has reported a total of 62,544 COVID-19 cases and 36 deaths in a population of 5.7 million”
“(At the two-thirds point,) I don’t think Singapore will be prepared. The number of cases and rapidity of spread may overwhelm our nation,” Dr Leong added.