Analysis-Vaccinated Singapore shows zero-COVID countries cost of reopening -Breaking
By Aradhana Aravindan
SINGAPORE (Reuters). Despite a successful campaign achieving a high level of coverage, few are left to inoculate wealthy Singapore. But, a record-breaking rise in infections and deaths is warning that there may be more risks ahead.
Although masks were required, social restrictions and COVID-19 booster dosages have been in place for more than a month, the latest infection in an Asian city-state, caused by the Delta variant of the virus, brought the death toll up to 280. This is an increase from the 55 reported in September.
Alex Cook from the National University of Singapore (NUS), a health modelling specialist, said “Singapore could potentially experience two or three epidemic waves”
“Until then deaths are likely to continue rising unless more elders who have not been vaccinated get vaccinated.”
Cook believes that this current wave of infection will subside, as more people become immune to the disease. However most cases are manageable at home.
Singapore is just one of many COVID zero countries. They have some of most severe measures around the globe to prevent infections and death far below what would be expected elsewhere.
This was part of an overall strategy to wait until the vast majority of the country’s 5.5 million residents had been immunized before gradually loosening restrictions and getting back into economic activity.
Now it is slowly re-opening its borders, expanding quarantine-free travel https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/singapore-pm-says-covid-19-new-normal-could-take-up-6-months-2021-10-09 to nearly a dozen countries. Australia, New Zealand and China have already started a similar transition. China is still far behind.
Authorities are now faced with the challenge of preventing surges in older adults and people with compromised immune systems. This is especially after the rapid-spreading Delta strain, which was introduced to Singapore earlier this year, has become the dominant strain worldwide.
Cook explained that if Cook were to be a policymaker in Australia or New Zealand, he would study what had happened in Singapore.
84% have been fully immunized in Singapore, with most receiving doses from Pfizer/BioNTech. Moderna (NASDAQ:) Some vaccines might not be effective in protecting the most vulnerable.
Fully vaccinated people made up about 30% of deaths over the last month, most older than 60 with underlying medical woes, in line with studies https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israeli-doctors-find-severe-covid-19-breakthrough-cases-mostly-older-sicker-2021-08-20 showing that vaccines offer less protection to the old and very ill.
However, Singapore’s seven-day rolling average of 1.77 deaths per million is more than that of regional peers like Japan, South Korea and Australia. The data from Our World in Data show this.
This is lower than the 4.96 in America and 1.92 in Britain.
At 47.5 deaths per million, the cumulative death rate as a percentage of the population is still amongst the lowest. Compare this to the figures for Brazil at 2,825.7 and in America at 2,202.4.
DELTA SAVED EVERYTHING
After the August relaxation of restrictions, Singapore’s most recent wave of infections has seen daily rates of almost 4,000 infected people per day, nearly three times more than last year.
Experts have stated that the effectiveness of antibiotics against Delta was high during the worst pandemic. However, this is despite the fact that most cases of Delta are mild or asymptomatic.
Dale Fisher of the National University Hospital, an expert in infectious diseases said that “most of our deaths are caused by the very small number of people who have not been vaccinated.”
COVID will become more common as it becomes more widespread.
Officials said that Singapore would increase some social-distancing limits for around a month to relieve pressure on its healthcare system.
They are now looking at booster doses, as only 12-year-olds can vaccinate. As authorities aim to target people over 30, as well as healthcare workers and the elderly, more than 600,000.
Measures that were not required, like excluding unvaccinated people from eating out or allowing them to shop in shopping malls, contributed to the increase of 17,000 first-time vaccine recipients last week. That’s 54% more than a week earlier.
Paul Tambyah (president of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection) stated that “I don’t think that lifting restrictions will have any effect on the case numbers.”
“To reach those seniors who are not yet vaccinated and to protect vulnerable people is the key.”