S'pore infectious diseases doctor slams 5 doctors' open letter calling for delay of mRNA vaccination

Readers asked to question the purpose of the letter.

Belmont Lay | June 29, 2021, 05:23 AM

A doctor specialising in infectious diseases in Singapore has slammed a new open letter by a group of five doctors here calling for the Covid-19 vaccination of young boys to be delayed.

Associate Professor David Lye, a senior infectious diseases specialist at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore, wrote on Facebook on June 28 that it is the same group of doctors who are trying to "mislead" and "misinform" the public yet again.

Vaccination works for the young

Lye did not mince his words as he questioned if there were any Covid-19 outbreaks involving children in Singapore, and credited the actions taken by the authorities so far as effective.

Lye wrote: “Did we not have school outbreaks? While our government strives to protect our children, these doctors are telling us to stop?”

Singapore was “lucky” to have very few children infected with the Delta variant, Lye said. 

He wrote that the letter did not say what would happen if the Delta variant had caused outbreaks among young children.

He explained that there are very few effective Covid-19 treatment options for children compared to adults, which was what made vaccination more valuable.

What's the purpose of the open letter?

Lye also urged readers of the letter to “draw their own conclusions”, and admonished its writers to reveal their purpose for even penning the piece.

Lye pointed out that three of the doctors who penned the latest letter belonged to a group of 12 doctors who openly doubted the effectiveness and safety of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines previously.

Lye is one of 14 members of the expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination that advises the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Where did new open letter appear?

The new letter made its rounds online over the final weekend of June 2021, after it appeared on the Facebook page of Kho Kwang Po and was addressed to Benjamin Ong, chairman of the expert committee.

The piece was also undersigned by Wong Wui Min, a cardiologist and heart specialist at WM Wong Cardiac and Medical Clinic in Gleneagles Hospital.

The open letter has made its rounds in the public sphere, where it has been taken seriously by some quarters who noted that one of those who penned it is a cardiologist.

The five individuals were revealed as: Wong Wui Min, A M Chia, L W Ping, I W Yang, and Kho Kwang Po, a cardiologist and heart specialist.

What new letter said

The new letter requested for a "short delay" of a few weeks for the mass vaccination of children, especially boys, to allow for more "high quality data" to emerge on the possible fatal effects of mRNA vaccines in youth.

The piece referred to the most recent data on myocarditis (a.k.a. heart inflammation), in adolescents, and even claiming that a 13-year-old boy in the United States had died from heart failure after getting the second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, when this information is inconclusive at best. 

The doctors in the open letter characterised the vaccination drive here as the “most aggressive mRNA programme” for boys in the world, and asked the authorities to possibly take “a more sensible and prudent posture”.

In Singapore, those aged 12 to 15 are allowed to the the mRNA vaccine, a plan set in motion in May 2021.

Top photo via Ministry of Education