Among the over 155,000 people who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Singapore, there were four reported cases of anaphylaxis, which is the rapid onset of severe allergic reactions.
This was stated in Parliament on Feb. 1 by Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Health, citing statistics as of Jan. 31, 2021.
Four individuals reported severe allergic reactions
There were four reported cases of anaphylaxis, which is the rapid onset of severe allergic reactions.
According to Puhtucheary, the individuals, who are in their 20s and 30s, developed multiple symptoms, such as rashes, breathlessness, lip swelling, throat tightness and giddiness.
Three of the individuals had a history of allergies, including allergic rhinitis and food allergy, such as to shellfish.
However, none had a history of anaphylaxis, which would have precluded them from receiving the vaccine in the first place.
One was under observation for a few hours while the others were discharged from the hospital after a day's observation, or treatment. Puthucheary said that all four individuals have since recovered from the episode, and none needed intensive care unit (ICU) support.
Singapore's incidence rate of anaphylaxis after administering the Covid-19 vaccine is about 2.6 per 100,000 does administered, compared to the incidence rates reported abroad, which stands at between one to two per 100,000 doses administered.
However, he said that these other countries have administered millions of doses, compared to the relatively small number in Singapore, which makes the variation in the incidence rate "to be expected".
432 adverse reactions
On Jan. 28, the Ministry of Health reported that a total of 432 adverse events were reported after taking the Pfizer vaccine.
Of these, three involved anaphylaxis of people in their 20s and 30s.
The majority of reports of adverse events were for regular symptoms, such as injection site pain and swelling, fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, giddiness, nausea, and allergic reactions such as itch, rash, swelling of eyes, and lips.
“These symptoms are reactions generally associated with all vaccinations and they generally resolved on their own within a few days,” MOH added.
No evidence that vaccine contributes to increased risk for seniors
Singapore will continue offering Covid-19 vaccinations for senior citizens, as there is no evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine contributes to an increased risk of death in the elderly, said Puthucheary.
According to Puthucheary, the benefits of getting vaccinated to protect oneself from the effects of Covid-19 and its complications far outweigh the risk of any potential adverse events known to be associated with vaccinations.
Earlier this month, Norway expressed its concern about the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine elderly people with underlying health conditions, after the death of 29 people after taking the vaccine.
All the deaths were related to elderly people with serious basic disorders, and the average age of the group that has been affected is about 75.
However, days later, Norway's health authorities have announced that there is no evidence to show a direct link between the deaths and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as the connection between the vaccine and the deaths is "difficult to prove".
According to the head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Camilla Stoltenberg, an average of 45 people die on a daily basis in nursing homes in Norway.
This means that the deaths of elderly who have been vaccinated do not exceeded normal mortality rates, and it is difficult to show a causal connection.
"Clearly, Covid-19 is far more dangerous to most patients than vaccination. We are not alarmed," said Steinar Madsen, medical director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency.
MOH monitoring international reports
According to Puthucheary, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), along with the expert committee on the Covid-19 vaccination, have been monitoring international reports of vaccine related events and deaths in elderly recipients.
"The Norwegian health authorities and the World Health Organisation's global advisory committee on vaccine safety have found no evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine contributes to an increased risk of death in the elderly. Thus, we continue to offer Covid-19 vaccinations for our seniors."
However, he added that MOH has reiterated to vaccination providers that doctors should review the medical history of seniors carefully, in order to confirm that they are indeed suitable for vaccinations, and that they should be monitored closely in the immediate period after vaccination.
"We will continue to close monitor the safety of the vaccine and ensure the vaccines used in Singapore are safe for our population groups," said Janil.
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