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Israel sees probable link between Pfizer vaccine and myocarditis cases

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JERUSALEM — Israel’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday it had found the small number of heart inflammation cases observed mainly in young men who received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in Israel were likely linked to their vaccination.

Pfizer said in a statement that it was aware of the Israeli observations of myocarditis and said no causal link to its vaccine had been established.

It said adverse events are thoroughly reviewed and Pfizer meets regularly with the Vaccine Safety Department of the Israeli Ministry of Health to review data.

In Israel, 275 cases of myocarditis were reported between December 2020 and May 2021 among more than 5 million vaccinated people, the ministry said in disclosing the findings of a study it commissioned to examine the matter.

Most patients who experienced heart inflammation spent no more than four days in the hospital and 95% of the cases were classified as mild, according to the study, which the ministry said was conducted by three teams of experts.

The study found “there is a probable link between receiving the second dose (of Pfizer) vaccine and the appearance of myocarditis among men aged 16 to 30,” it said in a statement.

According to the findings, such a link was observed more among men aged 16 to 19 than in other age groups.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory group last month recommended further study of the possibility of a link between myocarditis and mRNA vaccines, which include those from Pfizer and Moderna Inc.

In a May 24 meeting, the CDC advisory group said that the data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) – which relies on individuals to report results – showed a higher than expected number of observed myocarditis or pericarditis cases in 16– to 24-year-olds.

However, the group also said data from another database -Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) – did not show that rates of myocarditis or pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination differed from expectations. The VSD has data from nine healthcare organizations and can be used to compare vaccinated populations to unvaccinated ones.

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that parents should still vaccinate their kids because of the known risks of COVID-19, including multi-system inflammatory syndrome.

“This issue of a transient myocarditis associated with a vaccine is at the moment a theoretical and unproven risk,” Offit said. “So I think that in the world of trying to weigh relative risks, the disease is a greater risk.”

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said last week that heart inflammation after receiving the Pfizer vaccine had been no cause for concern as such incidents were similar rate to those in the general population. It added at the time that young men were particularly prone to the condition.

Israel had held off making its 12- to 15-year-old population eligible for the vaccines, pending the Health Ministry report. In parallel to publishing those findings, a ministry committee approved vaccinating the adolescents, a senior official said.

“The committee gave the green light for vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds, and this will be possible as of next week,” Nachman Ash, Israel’s pandemic-response coordinator, told Radio 103 FM. “The efficacy of the vaccine outweighs the risk.”

Israel has been a world leader in its vaccination rollout.

With COVID-19 infections down to just a handful a day and total active cases at just 340 across the country, the economy has fully opened, though restrictions remain on incoming tourism.

About 55% of Israel’s population has already been vaccinated. As of Tuesday, restrictions on social distancing and the need for special green vaccination passes to enter certain restaurants and venues were scrapped.

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Hundreds of Indonesian healthcare workers contract COVID-19 despite vaccination, dozens hospitalised

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JAKARTA: More than 350 Indonesian doctors and healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19 despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been hospitalised, officials said, as concerns rise about the efficacy of some vaccines against more virulent virus strains.

Most of the doctors were asymptomatic and self-isolating at home, said Badai Ismoyo, head of the Kudus district health office in Central Java, but dozens were in hospital with high fevers and declining oxygen saturation levels.

Kudus is battling an outbreak believed to be driven by the more transmissible Delta variant which has pushed bed occupancy rates above 90 per cent in the district.

Designated as a priority group, Indonesian healthcare workers were among the first to be vaccinated when the inoculation drive started in January.

Almost all have received the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, according to the Indonesian Medical Association.

While the number of Indonesian healthcare workers dying from COVID-19 has decreased significantly – dropping from 158 deaths this January to 13 this May, according to data initiative group LaporCOVID-19 – public health experts say the Java hospitalisations are cause for concern.

“The data shows they have the Delta variant so it is no surprise that the breakthrough infection is higher than before because as we know the majority of healthcare workers in Indonesia got Sinovac, and we still don’t know yet how effective it is in the real world against the Delta variant,” said Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Australia’s Griffith University.

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China’s Covid-19 vaccine flops in Singapore too

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New Delhi: In a major setback to Chinas Covid vaccines, Singapore is not counting its citizens who received Sinovac Biotech shots as being vaccinated against Covid-19 due to lack of data to show that the doses are effective against coronavirus, especially the Delta strain.

“We don’t really have a medical or scientific basis or have the data now to establish how effective Sinovac is in terms of infection and severe illnesses on Delta,” local media cited health minister Ong Ye Kung as saying at a press conference on Wednesday.

The decision comes close on the heels of serious doubts arising over Chinese vaccines in Indonesia as those who have received the shots are also contracting Covid-19 and infections are surging in the country.

The Delta variant is currently the dominant strain of Covid-19 in Singapore and was identified in the city state in May. Only people who have received the Moderna and Pfizer shots, are being considered as vaccinated in the official records.

Singapore had allowed some private clinics to offer the Sinovac shot, CoronaVac, from mid-June. Around 17,000 people are reported to have received one dose of CoronaVac.

Local media had also reported Singapore’s director of medical services saying last month that evidence from other countries showed people who had taken CoronaVac were still getting infected.

Most of the vaccines being used by Indonesia have also come from China’s Sinovac Biotech. Some health workers inoculated with Sinovac jabs have been hospitalized due to Covid-19. A few have even died despite being fully immunized, according to a report in Nikkei Asia.

The Indonesian Doctors Association says that of the 14 doctors who died from the virus between February and May, ten had been fully vaccinated with Sinovac, while the rest had been given one dose.

Although there is a serious problem with Chinese vaccines due to inadequate data to show their efficacy, some countries are being forced to opt for them because of the cute shortage of vaccines worldwide amid the devastating pandemic.

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102 people qualify for S$451,000 in Covid-19 vaccine injury financial aid to date: Ong Ye Kung

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SINGAPORE — The authorities have approved S$451,000 worth of financial aid to people who had suffered serious side effects from Covid-19 vaccines in Singapore, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Tuesday (July 6).

The payments have either been paid out or are being processed to 102 applicants under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (Vifap) introduced by the Government in January.

They were among a total of 292 applicants who had submitted a complete Vifap application as of June 25, Mr Ong said.

Of these, 159 did not meet the eligibility criteria and 31 applications are waiting to be reviewed by an independent clinical panel or pending more medical information from the applicant’s doctor.

Mr Ong was responding in a written answer to a parliamentary question filed by Ms He Ting Ru, Member of Parliament for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency, who had asked about the applications made and payments approved under the programme.

TODAY has asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) for details of these approved payouts.

Vifap provides three tiers of support to people assessed to be adversely affected by their Covid-19 inoculation.

The first is a one-time payout of S$2,000 for patients who need hospitalisation and medical intervention and who later recover.

The second is a payout of up to S$10,000 that will be given to those who were hospitalised and required care in a high dependency or intensive care unit, but later recover from the side effects caused by the vaccine.



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