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Claims over jabs: Opposition politician, news site issued Pofma correction orders

Claims over jabs: Opposition politician, news site issued Pofma correction orders

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 16 Apr 2021
Author: Shabana Begum

Mr Goh Meng Seng and Singapore Uncensored have complied with the correction directions.

Singapore's fake news law was invoked after unsubstantiated claims about vaccine-related adverse reactions were posted on Facebook and published online by an alternative news website.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said the Health Minister had instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office to issue the correction directions.

Posts published on April 2 on the Facebook pages of Goh Meng Seng People's Power Party and Goh Meng Seng (Satu Singapura) implied that Covid-19 vaccination had caused or substantially contributed to a doctor in Singapore suffering a stroke.

Mr Goh is the secretary-general of the People's Power Party.

The same Facebook accounts also published posts on April 7 implying that Covid-19 vaccination had caused or substantially contributed to the death of an 81-year-old man here.

MOH said that on that same day, Singapore Uncensored published an article on its website stating that an 81-year-old man had died from alleged vaccination complications. The article was also shared on the site's Facebook page on April 7.

"These allegations are false. As of April 14, there is no credible evidence for an increased risk of heart attack or stroke with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines which are currently approved and offered in Singapore," said MOH.

It added that the medical team caring for the doctor has assessed that the doctor's current condition is highly unlikely to be related to the Covid-19 vaccination, and Mount Elizabeth Hospital had issued a clarification on April 4.

As for the 81-year-old man, MOH said the cause of death was ischaemic heart disease, which refers to the lack of blood circulation to the heart muscles.

Both Mr Goh and Singapore Uncensored have complied with the correction directions to carry a correction notice alongside their posts. These are the first Pofma correction directions issued since last July.

In its statement, MOH said it is aware of falsehoods circulating that Covid-19 vaccination has clear and causal links with stroke and heart attack.

"There are also third parties who have exploited the sharing of personal experiences by individuals by reposting these personal accounts and making unsubstantiated claims about vaccine-related adverse reactions," it said.


Facts about the two cases

DOCTOR WHO HAD A STROKE

The medical team caring for the doctor has assessed that the doctor's current condition is highly unlikely to be related to Covid-19 vaccination.

The writer of the original Facebook post, Bun Ngok Fong, alleged that the doctor had a stroke a week after receiving the vaccine. The post also stated that the doctor is the writer's cousin.

In a Facebook post on April 4, Mount Elizabeth Hospital clarified that the allegations in the post are untrue.

The hospital added that the doctor's family has confirmed that the writer is not related to them. The family has also written to Facebook to have the post removed.

"You can help us stem the circulation of false information by not sharing the post and deleting it if you have already done so," added the hospital.


81-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO DIED

The cause of death of the 81-year-old man was ischaemic heart disease, which refers to the lack of blood circulation to the heart muscles.

The Health Sciences Authority's Forensic Medicine Division has reported that based on a post-mortem, there was no evidence of acute anaphylaxis or an allergic reaction at the injection site of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The three main blood vessels supplying blood to the muscles of the heart were extensively narrowed due to the build-up of plaque over time in the vessels, obstructing blood flow.

As at April 14, there is no credible evidence for an increased risk of heart attack or stroke with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines that are currently approved and offered in Singapore.

"They often continue to do so despite the original posts being removed or made private."

MOH said Covid-19 vaccines that are used in Singapore have been assessed to be safe and efficacious by both the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination.

"Medical teams are well equipped and measures are in place at all vaccination sites to ensure the safety of vaccine recipients pre-, during, and post-vaccination."

The ministry said all vaccine-related incidents are taken seriously, and healthcare professionals are required to report these incidents expeditiously to the MOH and HSA.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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