Health Ministry refutes claim placebos used in Covid-19 vaccination


Health Ministry refutes claim placebos used in Covid-19 vaccination

Published:  Jan 27, 2022 6:57 AM⋅Updated: 6:57 AM

The Health Ministry has refuted claims circulating on social media that it used placebos in its Covid-19 vaccination programme.

It said placebos are only used in clinical trials, not in registered products used under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

“All pharmaceutical products, including vaccines approved by the Drug Control Authority (DCA), are produced by manufacturers who follow international standards, including the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (PIC/S), and the World Health Organization.

“Quality control is conducted throughout the manufacturing process, where quality control tests are conducted on every batch before reaching the market. For registered products, it only contains active ingredients and excipients approved by the DCA and not a placebo.

“The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) also evaluates manufacturing documents and conducts cold chain inspections for every batch of Covid-19 vaccine through its stringent lot release process,” the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The ministry was responding to a video of a talk show organised by a group that is critical of the use of Covid-19 vaccines.

In the video, a panellist claimed a portion of Covid-19 vaccines is actually “placebos” comprising vaccines for other diseases such as influenza or hepatitis, which would have milder adverse effects than Covid-19 vaccines.

He also claimed that an increasing portion of the actual Covid-19 vaccine is being used as the vaccination campaign progresses, which leads to severe adverse events becoming more frequent.

For the record, the Health Ministry’s monitoring has found the reporting rate of adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) to be lower for booster shots than for the earlier primary vaccinations.

According to Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on Saturday, 24,411 AEFI reports have been received up to Jan 20 including 984 for booster doses.

This is out of 61,723,654 vaccine doses administered, including 10,192,887 booster doses.

This corresponds to a reporting rate of 0.1 per 1,000 doses for booster shots compared to the overall reporting rate of 0.4 per 1,000 doses – mostly about fever, injection site pain, fatigue and headaches.

Fifty-four of the AEFI reports for booster doses are classified as serious, corresponding to a reporting rate of 0.005 per 1,000 doses.

“Monitoring of AEFI reports received by the NPRA so far concludes that the trend and rate of AEFI reports involving booster shots do not show any increase from what was seen during the administration of primary doses.

“The same reporting trend is also seen in other countries that have implemented booster programmes for Covid-19,” Noor Hisham said.


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