Khairy: Don’t Blame Vaccines For Deaths Or Illnesses Happening Today

KJ says vaccines shouldn’t be blamed for deaths or illnesses happening today like stroke or heart attack. NPRA says only 26 serious AEFI reports were received per 1 mil doses across Covid vaccine type as of Nov 30; most were not directly caused by vaccine.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — Khairy Jamaluddin has urged Malaysians not to link any recent condition or fatality to Covid-19 vaccination taken at least more than a year ago.

The former health minister, who led the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) at the height of the pandemic, cited multiple comments on social media making such unproven associations with Covid-19 vaccines. 

“There are some who fell ill today and they linked it to the vaccine. I’ve seen many comments on social media, particularly on deaths of young people, like those in their 20s and 30s,” Khairy said on the Keluar Sekejap podcast co-hosted with Shahril Hamdan last June 4.

“In the world of science and medicine, there is something called causation – if we cannot prove a direct link that the vaccine had caused…there are people who have illnesses that aren’t related to vaccines, but they still blame vaccines.

“But I need to empathise because they’re sick. Perhaps they received inaccurate information, other people gave them incorrect information, or because of bias, they blame vaccines. I hope you get better, I pray you get better, but at the end of the day, we must rely on facts.”

Khairy defended the rollout of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in the PICK programme when he was in office, following international news on a court case in the United Kingdom where the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company admitted in court documents that its vaccine “can, in very rare cases, cause TTS” (Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome). TTS causes blood clots and a low blood platelet count.

“I was taught by public health experts and also medical experts that in whatever medicine or treatment we give, we have to balance between risk and benefit,” he said.

“So it cannot be said that the health problems today – stroke, heart attack, and so on – can be blamed on the vaccine. There must be causation; there must be proof that it was the vaccine that caused the disease.”

Khairy went on to explain why the issue has recently become a major talking point, citing UK court documents published in the media that suggested AstraZeneca was aware of the risk of VITT (Vaccine-induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia). 

AstraZeneca withdrew its Covid vaccine from market last month, which Khairy noted has been misinterpreted by some as an admission of guilt, even though the pharmaceutical company described the withdrawal as a commercial decision, since there are other updated Covid vaccines that target new variants. 

“AstraZeneca’s action of withdrawing the product [was interpreted as] an act of admission that the vaccine is dangerous, when they actually withdrew because there was no more demand,” he said.

He further said that the likeliness of a blood clot due to the vaccine is four cases in a million, which is 0.0004 per cent, far lower than the 16.5 per cent risk of getting a blood clot from Covid infection.

According to Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad’s office, the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) reported five cases of VITT in Malaysia as of March 31 this year, or only 0.88 cases per one million AstraZeneca vaccine doses given.

“The point made by the minister was that at this super low rate, we have to be very mindful that we are saving many lives, and the benefits outweigh the risks many times over,” Khairy stressed.

Khairy also spoke about the precautions taken by the Ministry of Health (MOH) during the Covid-19 vaccination drive to ensure minimised adverse effects, pointing out that the AstraZeneca vaccine was offered through a separate opt-in programme where potential recipients were informed about the tiny risk of blood clots.

“The MOH, at the time of giving the vaccine, stated that VITT can occur between four days and four weeks after vaccination. We also issued an advisory, where those who were at high risk of experiencing blood clots were not allowed to receive the vaccine.”

Shahril agreed with Khairy’s assessment of the situation, emphasising that all medical interventions carry some risk and that the key is to weigh the risks and benefits. 

Shahril highlighted that the international community, including Malaysia, acknowledged the potential for unknown long-term effects from the vaccines, due to the rapid development process. However, the global consensus was that vaccination was the best course of action based on the available evidence.

NPRA: Covid Vaccines’ Benefit-To-Risk Ratio in Malaysia ‘Very Favourable With a Stable Safety Profile’

According to NPRA’s latest Summary Report of Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) of Covid-19 Vaccines In Malaysia, a total of 72,610,229 doses of vaccine have been administered under the PICK programme until November 30, 2023. 

These were Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine (45.1 million doses), Sinovac (21.5 million doses), AstraZeneca (5.7 million doses), Cansino (over 228,000 doses), and Sinopharm (over 42,000 doses).

The percentage of serious AEFI reports of total vaccine doses administered, cumulative across vaccine types, was only 0.0026 per cent, the same figure for Pfizer and Sinovac each. Serious AEFI reports comprised just 0.0027 per cent of total AstraZeneca vaccine doses administered.

NPRA reported that 13,477 minor AEFI responses were received per one million doses, via the MySejahtera application. 

Meanwhile, through the existing NPRA Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR)/ AEFI Reporting System, 368 AEFI reports were received per one million doses. An overwhelming proportion of these complaints (93 per cent) were non-serious. 

“Similar to the global scenario, the reporting rates of AEFIs following Covid-19 vaccination in Malaysia have remained stable. The vast majority (93 per cent) of the reported AEFIs were non-serious. The most common reactions were injection site pain, headache, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, lethargy, and fever,” said the NPRA report.

NPRA only received 26 serious AEFI reports per one million doses given, a “small” rate, with most requiring short-term hospitalisation for observation and treatment. At the time of AEFI reporting, the affected vaccine recipients had mostly recovered or in the state of recovering. 

The most frequently reported serious AEFIs were shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, and anaphylactic reaction. 

“However, following detailed investigations and evaluations, the vast majority of these events were not directly caused by the vaccines given.”

As for Covid booster doses, as of November 30, 2023, a total of 17,159,608 doses were administered. From this, the NPRA received 1,790 AEFI reports (104 reports per one million doses administered). 

Of these, 175 of the reports (10 reports per one million doses administered) were categorised as serious, lower than the AEFI reporting rate for Covid-19 vaccines for all doses combined.

In the report, NPRA also mentioned that it is monitoring adverse events of special interest, which include anaphylaxis, Bell’s palsy, myocarditis/ pericarditis and VITT. A total of 158 reports of Bell’s Palsy were reported, equating to 2.2 cases per million doses. All the cases were reported to have recovered or were recovering at the time of the report. 

As of last November 30, no new cases of anaphylaxis, myocarditis/pericarditis, and VITT were reported.

“It is inaccurate to assume that all AEFIs reported in this summary report are directly caused by the vaccine,” NPRA stressed.

Ex-DG Hisham: Heart Attack, Stroke, Blood Clotting Problems Today Due To Smoking, Cholesterol Problems, Or Diabetes, Not Vaccines

Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, who was the Health director-general during the Covid-19 pandemic, explained that the MOH took comprehensive action to ensure that AEFI cases following vaccination with AstraZeneca’s vaccine remained low. 

“The Malaysian Ministry of Health, at that time, received reports that VITT can occur between four days and four weeks after vaccination.

“Nevertheless, this vaccine still needed to be used for the vaccination programme because the death rate due to Covid-19 among unvaccinated people was very high, and at that time, vaccine stocks were insufficient at that time,” Dr Noor Hisham posted on X last May 28.

“High-risk groups are those who have a history of blood clots. This risk group was not allowed to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Malaysian Ministry of Health also issued guidelines to screen high-risk groups to not receive this type of vaccine, and also for early detection if AEFI occurs as a side effect.”

Dr Noor Hisham also pinpointed the low rate of VITT at only four cases occurring per one million AstraZeneca vaccine doses, compared to the risk of blood clots from TT after Covid infection that can be as high as 165,000 cases per one million infections.

The incidence of blood clots among smokers is also higher at nearly 1,800 cases per million smokers, he added.

“Cases of heart attack, stroke, and blood clotting problems happening now have NO RELATIONSHIP with the vaccine because no vaccination programmes have been using this vaccine recently,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

“Heart attacks, stroke, and blood clotting problems that still occur today are due to other risk factors such as smoking, cholesterol problems, and diabetes. Please differentiate between blood clot side effects (VITT) and other blood clotting problems.”

Dr Noor Hisham also urged the public to not speculate in order to avoid misinformation.

“Diagnosis cannot be made with the naked eye without examination and confirmation by a medical officer. We need to be careful with the analysis of facts and misinterpretation that can cause confusion in society.”

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