The four individuals who were found to have rapidly developed severe allergic reactions after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have recovered, with none of them needing intensive care unit (ICU) support, said Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary in Parliament on Monday (1 February).
Responding to questions from several Members of Parliament (MPs) about the side effects of the vaccine, Dr Janil said the benefits of getting vaccinated “far outweigh” the risk of any adverse events known to be associated with the vaccine.
He explained that the four individuals, who are in their 20s and 30s, developed multiple symptoms such as rashes, breathlessness, lip swelling, throat tightness and giddiness.
“Three of the individuals had a history of allergies, including allergic rhinitis and food allergy such as to shellfish, but none had a history of anaphylaxis which would have precluded them from receiving the vaccine in the first place,” said Dr Janil.
The Minister reassured that anaphylaxis can be controlled when detected and treated in a timely manner, as in the case of the four individuals.
“All have recovered from the episode. One was under observation for a few hours while the others were discharged from the hospital after a day’s observation or treatment. None needed ICU support,” he noted.
As with other vaccines, people who received the COVID-19 vaccine may experience injection site pain, swelling fever, headache, fatigue and body aches, which generally resolve within a few days, said Dr Janil.
He noted that Singapore’s incidence rate of anaphylaxis is about 2.6 per 100,000 doses administered, compared with the incidence rates of around one to two per 100,000 reported abroad.
Dr Janil added that these countries have administered millions of doses, compared to the “relatively small” number in Singapore, which makes the variation in the incidence rate “to be expected”.
“We will continue to closely monitor the safety of the vaccine and ensure the vaccines used in Singapore are safe for our population groups,” he said.
More than 155,000 individuals have received their first dose of the vaccine as of Sunday (31 January).
Dr Janil also noted that there is no evidence that the vaccine contributes to an increased risk of death among the elderly.
“The Norwegian health authorities and the World Health Organisation’s global advisory committee on vaccine safety have found no evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine contributes to an increased risk of death in the elderly,” he added.