Covid-19 vaccine

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has refuted claims made by a medical doctor who said that the development and administration of mRNA vaccines have led to new virus mutants or variants. Asserting that the claims, made in a article by Dr Gabriel Oon, are factually incorrect, MOH said that by citing people he knew who have succumbed to the virus, he seemed to also suggest that the vaccines were ineffective or even caused these deaths.

In a statement posted on the Government’s Factually website, the MOH clarified that the COVID-19 Delta variant, which caused a significant global wave and numerous deaths, had already developed before the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines. The Ministry emphasized that viruses naturally mutate during transmission and replication, and there is no scientific evidence linking mRNA vaccines to the generation of new variants.

Contrary to Dr Oon’s assertions, MOH clarified that mRNA vaccines do not contain live SARS-CoV-2 virus. Instead, the mRNA vaccines utilize RNA material, translated into a viral protein, to trigger an immune response in humans. This process does not involve the inactivation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Addressing Dr Oon’s recommendation to use antiviral drugs like Tamiflu for COVID-19 treatment, the MOH highlighted that Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is designed for treating influenza infection. Multiple studies, the Ministry noted, found Oseltamivir ineffective against inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 in vitro, and it did not improve patients’ symptoms or slow down disease progression.

The MOH stressed the extensive scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of vaccination in reducing the risk of severe illness and death among those infected with COVID-19. Singapore, the statement noted, recorded one of the lowest excess death rates globally during the pandemic due to the widespread vaccination uptake.

The Ministry acknowledged that vaccination does not provide 100% protection, particularly for older and vulnerable individuals, but emphasized that deaths should be attributed to the virus rather than the vaccines. It also urged the public to base their conclusions on scientific evidence as it reiterated the importance of vaccination in the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.