With the manufacturing of a variety of new Covid-19 vaccines, there’s bound to be some discourse. To debunk any conspiracies or false facts about the Covid vaccine, experts have taken it upon themselves to clear out any confusion. Especially since this involves everybody’s health and protection from the virus.
Through a Facebook post on Monday (7 June), Associate Professor David Lye, spoke up against the misinformation being spread and said that he hopes to correct certain misleading facts about Covid vaccine.
“Why Fake Science And Anti-Vaccine Groups Are Dangerous In A Pandemic”
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Infectious disease specialist, David Lye, wrote how he’s been suffering from insomnia with all the messages and petitions he sees about “urging parents not to vaccinate their teenagers, demanding that our government stop mRNA vaccines and use Sinovac, and advising ivermectin as treatment and prevention for COVID instead of vaccination.”
Some of these, he says, are from a group of doctors including Dr Paul IW Yang and private cancer specialist Dr Oon Chong Jin. To put it into perspective, here are the claims these doctors have made about the Covid-19 vaccine:
Children should be given traditional Covid-19 vaccines instead of mRNA ones
In an open letter sent to the government last month, 12 doctors urged to give children in Singapore the China-made vaccine Sinovac since it uses the traditional killed vaccine technology that is “proven to be safe.”
This was in comparison to mRNA vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which they claim can be risky as we do not know what side effects might surface 10 to 20 years from now.
The letter was later retracted by 11 of the doctors.
Dr Oon claims the Pfizer vaccine “is useless now and obsolete in the presence of mutations”
On Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre’s website and in various chat groups, Dr Oon left comments about the Covid-19 vaccines. Dr Oon has been involved in testing the Hepatitis B vaccine in Singapore more than 30 years ago.
He agrees that Sinovac should be used by everyone, including children. He says the Sinovac vaccine can provide protection against the B1617 variants. Dr Oon also claims the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are unable to do this.
Those under 20 years old should not be vaccinated
There was an online petition circulated by “Citizens Against Covid-19” on 5 June which claimed that those under 20 years should not be vaccinated. The petition which has already garnered more than 1,800 signatures argues that “the mortality rate for this age group is statistically zero.”
The online petition called for a nationwide Outpatient Home Treatment Plan that it claims was developed by international critical care doctors. They also claim that this drug “destroys all coronaviruses, including its mutants.”
Prof Lye has rubbished these claims and calls them wrong.
“Doctors are well respected in our society. Hence their advice may influence the public to avoid COVID vaccination. We should be upset when these doctors quote dubious international experts and research potentially misleading the public,” says Prof Lye.
Covid Vaccine: Prof Lye Sets Facts Straight
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In response to these claims, Prof Lye took to Facebook to list facts about the Covid vaccine and clear out any misleading information to the Singapore public.
Why should we vaccinate children and teenagers?
Prof Lye says that while younger people don’t usually have severe Covid-19 symptoms “unless they have health problems,” they can still carry the virus as adults when infected.
Children and teenagers can still infect other “adults with poor immunity and older adults, who may become sick.”
mRNA vaccines are in fact one of the most effective Covid vaccines.
A UK study has found that the Pfizer-Biotech and Astrazeneca vaccines can reduce household transmission by 50 to 60 per cent. Prof Lye writes, “These doctors claimed that mRNA vaccines do not reduce transmission.”
He adds how these mRNA vaccines can:
Reduce symptomatic Covid-19 by 95%
Reduce hospitalisation for severe Covid-19 by more than 90%
Prevent transmission by more than 60%
Prof Lye also says that there is a wealth of data from the United States, UK and Israel on their safety.
He notes, “Importantly mRNA vaccines are effective against UK b117 (93%), South African b1351 (75-90%) and b1617.2 (88%) variants. There is a relative lack of data on Sinovac against the variants. Laboratory studies showed that Sinovac may not work well in Brazilian B1128 and South African B1351 variants.”
“Although these doctors claimed Sinovac is superior to mRNA vaccines against variants. there is little data to confirm it is effective for B1617.2, and there is data to suggest it is less effective against other variants,” writes Prof Lye.
“All COVID vaccines have been developed rapidly.”
In response to claims that the mRNA vaccines were developed in a rush, Prof Lye corrects them saying they were developed rapidly and “there is [a] huge investment by governments and companies.” As many people volunteered in clinical trials, these were completed rapidly.
“In fact, Sinovac and Sinopharm were approved in China before the trials were completed,” he writes.
Prof Lye also explains, “Singapore and China have strong relationships. There is no reason for Singapore not to approve Sinovac. But approval requires data judged to be adequate. As our government explained, HSA is still awaiting [a] reply from Sinovac on its queries.”
He continues to write that there are very few reasons why a person cannot take mRNA vaccines with the latest facts about this Covid vaccine. He says these doctors are only pressuring HSA to “ignore rigorous review process.”
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The Sinovac vaccine is not completely harmless
Just because Sinovac uses traditional methods, this does not mean this vaccine is totally safe.
Prof Lye writes, “even though inactivated whole virus vaccine is an old technology, it is not harmless and we still need to watch out for side effects. In the 1960s, two inactivated vaccines for measles and respiratory syncytial virus led to more severe disease, and were withdrawn.”
“These doctors quoted a study that showed SARS-CoV-2 RNA from COVID infection could be integrated into human cells. While this has been quickly debunked by scientists as an artefact of the laboratory methods, these doctors failed to understand that mRNA from vaccines do not last for more than 2 days in our body and are different from viral RNA from COVID infection,” he adds.
“Ivermectin has not been proven to be effective in COVID.”
To doctors who advocate the use of ivermectin and fluvoxamine for treatment and prevention of the virus, these have not been proven to be effective in Covid-19.
Ivermectin is usually used as a treatment for parasites and fluvoxamine is an antidepressant.
Prof Lye says there are very few properly conducted clinical trials that have been published regarding this treatment. He writes, “Among others, evidence cited for ivermectin in COVID included the faked database company called Surgisphere which led to two journal retractions from the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine and Lancet in 2020.”
“In a large trial conducted at a dormitory by National University Hospital doctors including Professor Ananth Tambyah, ivermectin was NOT effective in preventing COVID,” he says.
With how easily fake news and misinformation can spread nowadays, especially across the internet, Prof Lye urges Singaporeans “to be aware and alert of fake science on social media.”
“Anti-vaccine groups from Singapore and overseas are highly active. We must win this war against the virus. Effective COVID vaccines are a part of our solution,” he concludes his post.”