Singapore: 80% vaccination rate is still “too low” to return to normal life

Singapore remains reluctant to implement reopening measures and last week re-imposed restrictions after recording the highest daily number of Covid-19 cases in more than a year.

On September 12, this country of 5.7 million people recorded 555 new cases in the community, the highest level since August 2020.

A day earlier, Singapore recorded its 58th death, an 80-year-old partially vaccinated person with a history of diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health last week banned mass gatherings in the workplace after a cluster of Covid-19 cases in staff cafeterias, which are believed to have occurred because employees had removed their masks at the premises. public area.

Gan Kim Yong, co-chair of the multi-ministry Covid-19 task force in Singapore, said the current “worrying” increase in the number of cases “could increase to 2,000 cases/day”, while receiving the next 2-4 weeks is the “key” time. Alex Cook, an infectious disease expert at the National University of Singapore, said that life has not improved “as much as we expected”, despite Singapore being one of the countries with high vaccination rates. best of the world.

Singapore mainly uses Pfizer and Moderna vaccines while some elderly people choose Sinovac vaccine from China.

“The number of cases in the community actually increased once we reached 80 percent vaccine coverage, in part because we allowed more social events to take place with people who had been vaccinated and other measures taken. control is made looser,” Mr. Cook told ABC.

“An important lesson from Southeast Asia is that it is extremely difficult to prevent the spread of the Delta variant. As Singapore shows, even high vaccination rates are not going to help much. Delta variant),” Cook said.

“We’re seeing quite a bit of breakthrough in people who have been vaccinated, but it’s mostly mild and pre-symptomatic cases.”

Singapore has only 35 patients with severe illness, with seven requiring treatment in the ICU, Singapore’s Ministry of Health said.

With 50% of Singaporeans allowed to return to the office and most using public transport to get around, Singapore last week recorded more than 300 Covid-19 cases linked to eight bus transit points.

80% vaccine coverage is still “too low, not enough to prevent Delta variant”

Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist at Singapore’s Rophi Hospital, said the Delta variant had caused the country to change its goals, including vaccination rates.

“Singapore aims for 80% of the population to be vaccinated, that’s still too low. This rate can apply to Alpha variant but this is Delta, the variant is 2-3 times more infectious. “, Mr. Leong said.

“Now they need at least 90% of the population to be vaccinated, which is theoretically impossible because of people who resist or refuse to get vaccinated.”

Mr. Leong said that an 80% rate is still “not enough” because the number of new cases can still significantly increase the burden on the health system as well as lead to many deaths.

“This goal is unlikely to be achieved, especially in the next few weeks,” the expert said.

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