S'pore doctors publish open letter calling for halt to Covid-19 jabs for 200,000 schoolboys

SINGAPORE – Some doctors and cardiologists here have written an open letter appealing to the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination to halt the vaccination exercise for some 200,000 schoolboys, following the death of a 13-year-old in the United States after he received the vaccination.

The US media last Thursday (June 24) reported that the boy, from Saginaw county in Michigan, died three days after getting his second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, supposedly from heart failure. It is unclear which vaccine he had received.

The Saginaw County Health Department said the US Centres For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was investigating if there was a link between the vaccination and the boy’s death.

The open letter, which was published on Facebook last Saturday by a cardiologist, Dr Kho Kwang Po, was addressed to Professor Benjamin Ong, chairman of the expert committee. It calls for a short delay in Singapore’s vaccination exercise until the CDC and other organisations worldwide have produced more robust and convincing data on the case.

“This is very important as our mRNA (vaccination) programme for boys is massive… one of the most aggressive programmes in the world,” Dr Kho wrote in his Facebook post.

This comes amid parental concerns and worries about mRNA vaccines, which include the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, after data on myocarditis among healthy young males was published here, he noted.

As at June 11, four of the six cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart) among people vaccinated here involved men between 18 and 30 years old.

All four had reported symptoms of heart inflammation within a few days of receiving their second dose of the vaccines, and have since recovered.

The letter said: “Could we take a more sensible and prudent posture? Can we give the CDC (and other organisations) more time to investigate and provide us with high-quality data on the possibly fatal effects of mRNA vaccines in youths?”

The letter was co-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, “on behalf of many concerned paediatricians, primary care physicians, specialists, surgeons and GPs”.

The Straits Times has contacted Dr Kho for comment.

The Ministry of Health, when asked if it would consider the suggestions in the letter, declined to respond, saying only that there was no change in the vaccination plans.

Covid-19 vaccination in Singapore is currently voluntary, though the Government has strongly urged people to get vaccinated if they are eligible.

The expert committee previously said that while further studies and investigations are ongoing, the currently available data suggests that there may be a very small risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after the second dose of an mRNA vaccine.

Most cases are mild, and the patients recover without the need for significant intervention and do not suffer any long-term effects, it noted.

Severe cases may result in damage to the heart muscles, although that is very rare, it added.

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The assessment was that the benefits of mRNA vaccines – reduction in Covid-19 infections and less severe complications even if infected – continue to outweigh the risks.

The US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System has confirmed 393 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis, with more than 318 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines administered in the US as at last Monday. Most of the cases were in male adolescents and young adults.

While some have required hospitalisation, the majority have recovered from the symptoms, said the CDC.

Meanwhile, another online petition calling for the suspension of vaccinations in Singapore for those under 30, particularly children between the ages of 12 and 15, has also surfaced.

The petition, supposedly started by a number of concerned parents, had received more than 1,200 signatures as at Sunday afternoon.

Addressed to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, the petition also references the death of the 13-year-old in the US, and asks for the vaccinations to be temporarily suspended until more data from the US is made available.

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It notes that most of the young people have already received the first dose – which is able to give around 75 per cent protection against Covid-19.

As at last Thursday, some 83 per cent of students aged 12 and above had received one jab or registered their interest in getting vaccinated. The figure was 39 per cent for those aged 12 to 39.

“Wouldn’t that be enough protection while we await the results of the investigation before we proceed with the second dose?” the petition asks.

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