Health expert pre-empts anti-vaxxer propaganda, tells public to rely on science

A senior consultant paediatrician is pre-empting anti-vaxxers from “damaging” Malaysia’s National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme which begins tomorrow.

Using data from the UK, European Union (EU) and USA, Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS added that members of the public should stay abreast with science and not fall prey to anti-vaccine propaganda.

This comes as Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin becomes the first person in the country to be vacinated tomorrow – widely seen as an attempt to pacify concerns surrounding the vaccine which was developed in record time.

Dr Amar explained USA had in 2019 reported a death rate for those aged 65 and above as 3,917 per 100,000 population. The most common cause of death for that particular age group was heart disease, stroke (cerebral vascular disease), cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease – similar to that in Malaysia.

“If we translate this information to our population (proxy data), this means that for every 100,000 Malaysians aged 65 years or older, close to 4,000 will die each year (rates will be higher the older they are),” Dr Amar said.

“This is equivalent to 75 deaths per week for every 100,000 people aged 65 years and older.

“Data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia shows that 7.1 per cent of the population is aged 65 and above, i.e. 2.34 million people. This means that there will be 1,755 expected deaths per week for Malaysians aged 65 years and older, without Covid-19 vaccination.”

He added that the figure is the expected “baseline deaths” every week.

“Hence, if we give Covid-19 vaccination to 100,000 Malaysians aged 65 years and older, we can expect at least 75 of them to die in the next seven days from other diseases like a heart attack or stroke.

“These will not be deaths due to the vaccine, but the expected deaths from other illnesses.

“However, because a Covid-19 vaccine had been given, some
may then claim the deaths were due to the vaccination and this will fuel the anti-vaccine lobby.”

He said to date, over 200 million doses of vaccines had been given out worldwide.

“The USA and UK monitor all vaccine adverse events. So far, from the 26 million doses delivered in those two countries, some (baseline) deaths have occurred as expected but a review of individual reports does not suggest the vaccine played a role in the deaths.

“Currently, the only recognised serious side effect is a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) that occurs in between four and 11 cases out of 1,000,000 doses.”

Dr Amar said Malaysia’s Health Ministry will monitor such incidents after vaccination takes place and will be “looking for any evidence of a link between the vaccine and any adverse outcome.”

“We should only be alarmed if the rate of deaths rises significantly above the baseline rate. It is important for the public to understand this as we embark on our national Covid-19 vaccination programme.

“Some of our loved ones may die after the vaccination but this will likely not be due to the vaccination.

“We should stay abreast with the science and data and not fall prey to rumours or anti-vaccine propaganda,” he added.

Here’s the round-up of The News Normal today.

SECOND BATCH OF VACCINES ARRIVING TOMORROW

Malaysia will receive its second batch of 182,520 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine tomorrow.

The vaccine will be distributed to states that have not received their supply.

The country received the first shipment of Covid-19 on Sunday – 312,390 doses arrived at the KL International Airport with another 73,710 doses sent to Johor via the Causeway.

There are 16 secret locations nationwide that will store the vaccines.

UNICEF LAUDS DECISION TO REOPEN SCHOOLS

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) fully supports the decision to reopen schools in Malaysia.

In a statement, Unicef said the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted children’s lives and impacted their education and mental health.

“The longer children remain out of school, the greater the learning loss and irreversible harm for children. The school is a microcosm of society, where children can access all sorts of provisions like psychosocial support, nutrition, besides their education. It is a safe space for all children.

“Schools reopening will allow students to access these services, and to learn, connect and play with their friends again.”

Unicef added teachers and school personnel should be vaccinated against Covid-19 once frontliners and those in the high-risk groups are given the jabs.

“This will help protect teachers from the virus, allow them to teach in person, and ultimately keep schools open.”

RM4.2M SYABU SEIZED NEAR KELANTAN-THAI BORDER

The General Operations Force (GOF) seized RM4.2 million worth of syabu, the biggest haul of the year to date, following an operation at a village near the Kelantan-Thailand border yesterday.

A GOF team went to an abandoned house in Kampung Lubok Gong, Rantau Panjang and waited in the area for close to 10 hours. As no one turned up, the team entered the house and discovered six plastic packages containing 107kg of drugs.

Initial investigations revealed the syabu was to be distributed in Kelantan and several other states.

WILL NATIONAL SPORTS VISION END UP AS POLITICAL GIMMICK?

With Malaysia’s political scene in a complex situation and talk of a looming general election heightens, the soon to be launched National Sports Vision 2030 may end up as a political gimmick.