Minister assures vaccines are safe

James Kon

Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, in his deliberation of the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) budget for the financial year 2021-2022 during the Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday, reassured the public that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

The minister said, “Regarding the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme soon to be launched in this country, it is understandable that there is a profusion of disturbing news regarding vaccines and their impact on individuals. The efficacy rate of each vaccine is also widely spread across the mass media.”

“The public should not feel too anxious by the negative news spread through social media and so on, as most of it is biased and untrue. Studies also show that most of the reported deaths were not due to the vaccines, but chronic health problems that the individuals were suffering from,” the minister said.

He added, “Vaccination is the most effective way to break the chain of COVID-19 infection. The process of obtaining them is very difficult, because the amount of vaccine produced for the whole world is insufficient, despite the manufacturing companies’ promise to produce a billion doses of vaccine until 2021.

“Brunei Darussalam was forced to choose a limited selection of vaccine; therefore the government is always mindful to ensure that the country is guaranteed a sufficient number of vaccines, through international consultations.

Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at the 17th Legislative Council session. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

“The process of selecting the vaccines was carried out very carefully, taking into account the safety aspects through a review of data and the result of scientific studies conducted on each COVID-19 vaccine.

“Therefore, we must appreciate the efforts of the government, in providing support to the vaccination programme.”

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham also highlighted that the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam was clearly the main success factor and catalyst to the effective response towards the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, together with the integrated cooperation of government agencies and the public through a whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach.

“Among the major factors in the effectiveness of curbing the pandemic was the unwavering support of the public, in adhering to the instructions and standard operating procedures from the government such as social distancing, maintaining personal hygiene, mass gathering guidelines, the use of QR codes, and so on. The whole-of-nation approach is seen as a unity of government directives and the public to control the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In 2020, the MoH placed a major focus on its workforce, to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Apart from the frontliners – who were not only hospital staff, but almost the entire staff at the MoH – the frontline officers from other agencies and volunteers worked very hard. They all united for the main purpose of saving lives, despite having to sacrifice family time, facing the risk of infection and experiencing unexpected fatigue,” he said.

The minister thanked frontliners from the MoH; the Ministry of Home Affairs, particularly the Fire and Rescue Department, the National Disaster Management Centre, the Immigration and National Registration Department; the Royal Customs and Excise Department; the Royal Brunei Police Force; the Royal Brunei Armed Forces; the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, especially the Youth and Sports Department and the Community Development Department; the Brunei Darussalam Red Crescent Society; and volunteers, from the National Service Programme (PKBN) and the Royal Brunei Airlines.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham also thanked to those who contributed to the COVID-19 Relief Fund which raised BND11,137,514 for the construction of an additional building at the National Isolation Centre (NIC) in Tutong District, alongside the purchase of medical equipment for the new building which can accommodate 166 beds, compared to the previous 27.

The minister also conveyed his appreciation to workers and suppliers who fully funded the new Virology Laboratory building, which increased the capacity for COVID-19 tests by 10 times.