Vaccine raw data analysis should be guided to avoid confusion

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / Pic by TMR FILE PIX

ANALYSIS on the raw data regarding the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines released by the Ministry of Health (MoH), must use the standard scientific methodology and framework and must be peer-reviewed.

Pharmaniaga Bhd Group MD Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope (picture) said the release of the raw data to the public must be guided with a thorough explanation by the authorities to avoid misinterpretation and speculation.

“In the current crisis, data is essential in measuring the effectiveness of the nation’s Covid-19 vaccination programme. However, speculation and misinterpreted data will cloud the waters, obscuring nuances within communities and creating unnecessary confusion among the public.

“Clinical data is highly time-dependent and requires advanced statistical methods to avoid common pitfalls such as selection, length, immortal-time and competing for risk bias,” he said in a statement.

Zulkarnain added that in the same way as data should be collected in a standardised way, it should also be analysed in a standardised way.

“The online news report clearly does not provide a clear picture of the purported data and somehow has reflected an insufficient engagement with subject-matter experts such as scientists and researchers, as it should be scientifically analysed, peer-reviewed and accepted by a panel of experts,” he said.

The announcement is to ensure the interpretation of the data is accurate and to avoid erroneous speculation by the public, followed by the bias risk which can cause more harm than benefit to the nation’s vaccination efforts.

Recently, an unverified analysis was published by an online news portal claiming that there have been 10.11 vaccine breakthrough deaths for every 100,000 people vaccinated with Sinovac, 3.47 per 100,000 for Pfizer recipients and 0.91 deaths per 100,000 for AstraZeneca.

Zulkarnain shared similar thoughts with Universiti Putra Malaysia epidemiologist and biostatistician Assoc Professor Dr Malina Osman who reportedly said that the unverified analysis could be misleading.

In the report, she said if MoH does not come out to state whether this interpretation is right or wrong and why while elaborating its context, parameters and the limits of the data, then this could threaten to undo all the hard work put into making the (vaccination) drive a success.

She also said that if the ministry did not explain the data, it could easily be manipulated by anti-vaxxers.

Zulkarnain added that the analysis of raw data on vaccination status and deaths reported with complete/incomplete vaccination was without any scientific methodology and consideration of a causal association with other critical parameters related to death which are not available in the raw data.

“In this regard, the comparison was based on raw data of deaths listing from the health authorities, which has neither scientific rigour nor adequate background information to support comparison,” he said.