Be careful of misleading WhatsApp messages and 'poor maths': Ong Ye Kung

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SINGAPORE - Health Minister Ong Ye Kung has warned members of the public to be careful of misleading WhatsApp messages circulating that claimed Covid-19 vaccines do not work.

During an update by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 on Saturday (Oct 23), he cited a message claiming that beds in the intensive care unit (ICU) are 40 per cent occupied by vaccinated individuals.

The message also urged the Ministry of Health (MOH) to "come clean" about this situation regarding vaccinated individuals falling seriously ill with Covid-19.

Responding, Mr Ong said: "I think this is selective use of data to mislead people and it's a disservice to people."

He said that MOH had been releasing as much data as it could to help the public understand the benefits of vaccination.

"It's not about transparency or data, it's about the right application of maths," he added.

For instance, if 100 per cent of the population is vaccinated, every single ICU case and death will be of a vaccinated person.

"It doesn't mean vaccines don't work," he said, noting that people have to look at the incidence rate and the base of the calculations.

"The very stark piece of data is this - we have a group of seniors that are still unvaccinated. They account for 1.5 per cent or slightly less of the total population.

"And over the last 28 days, (they) accounted for two-thirds of ICU occupancy and deaths, and that's how stark it is."

Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak explained that about 3.5 per cent of all unvaccinated local cases had a more severe illness requiring either oxygen supplementation or ICU care, in contrast with 0.6 per cent of all vaccinated cases.

"The overall risk of infected Covid-19 patients who need oxygen supplementation or ICU care, or who have died, is 8.1 per cent of all unvaccinated people. And this compares to 1.4 per cent for fully vaccinated people," Associate Professor Mak said.

"This means there's a relative risk of 5.8 times more for an unvaccinated person to get a severe infection, compared to vaccinated people."

Mr Ong concluded: "So do get yourself vaccinated. Be careful of misleading WhatsApp messages and poor maths."

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