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Coronavirus: Singapore reports over 2,700 cases of suspected adverse effects following COVID-19 vaccine

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Singapore, May 06: More than 2,700 reports of suspected adverse effects to COVID-19 vaccinations administered in Singapore were reported over a three-month period, the country's health authority said on Thursday.

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The reports, which mostly documented common reactions like rash, muscle aches and dizziness, made up 0.13 per cent of the more than 1.3 million administered doses from December 30 last year to April 18 this year.

This makes the chance of having an adverse event very rare, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said at a press conference held to give an update on the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines which have been approved for use here. Among the 2,796 reports, 95 cases are classified as serious adverse effects.

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They made up 0.04 per cent of the total number of administered doses. Reactions are deemed to be severe if they are life-threatening, patients are hospitalised or their functional capacity is significantly reduced. Most of the adverse effects are largely expected with COVID-19 vaccination, the Channel News Asia reported the HSA as saying.

The majority, 70 per cent, of these cases were reported in patients younger than 60 years old but this is not unusual, the HSA said, noting that the data is consistent with clinical trial reviews. The common side effects, which include fever, headache, muscle ache and shortness of breath are largely the physical manifestation of the body mounting an immune response, the HSA said.

Of these, 20 were reports of anaphylaxis, a rare and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. The local incidence rate of anaphylaxis, 1.4 per 100,000 doses administered, is within the reported incidence rates of about 0.5 to 2 in other countries, the authority said.

Another 20 were of severe allergic reaction such as shortness of breath and rapid difficulty. A "small number" of reports were on patients who had effects such as limb numbness and change in vision, the HSA said. The majority of those who suffered from severe reactions have recovered or are recovering, it added.

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The HSA said it will also closely monitor the occurrence of adverse events of special interest. These are pre-specified medically significant events that have been observed historically with other vaccines. Twenty five cases of Bell's Palsy, also known as peripheral facial nerve palsy which is a condition that causes temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles, were reported, said the authority.

Explaining baseline incidences, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore, Teo Yik Ying, said that these are occurrences independent of having vaccination.

Based on numbers over the past two years, there will be around 2,000 stroke cases in three months and slightly less than 3,000 heart attack cases in three months, he said at the press conference.

As of Thursday, Singapore has reported 18 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to 61,286 cases, the health ministry said Thirty one people have died from COVID-19 in the country, said the Ministry.

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