Covıd-19, Coronavirus

Commentary: COVID-19 unlikely to become a thing of the past anytime soon

Commentary: COVID-19 unlikely to become a thing of the past anytime soon

7/5/2021 1:23:00 AM
Covıd-19, Coronavirus, Variants

Commentary: COVID-19 unlikely to become a thing of the past anytime soon

More mutations of the virus can be expected if large outbreaks continue and much depends on vaccination rates and whether more effective ...

As is currently occurringand was the case in China, US, Italy and elsewhere in the initial stages of the outbreak, local healthcare systems were simply overwhelmed trying to treat COVID-19 cases.The end result was a high, but otherwise largely avoidable, mortality rate among the infected population.

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Even when the world was far less interconnected, the Spanish Flu of 1918 to 1919 had three major waves that killed roughly 40 million people. As horrible as COVID-19 has been, the death toll is at over 3 million, suggesting that it could be much worse without precautionary measures in place.

This possibility is the main reason why Singapore acted swiftly tostep up COVID-19 measuresin view of the rising cases of community infections, and is unlikely to lift current restrictions without some certainty that it can contain future outbreaks.(Are COVID-19 vaccines still effective against new variants? And could these increase the risk of reinfection? Experts explain why COVID-19 could become a “chronic problem" on CNA's Heart of the Matter podcast.)

WHY WE ARE FAR FROM A PRE-COVID-19 NORMALWith the vaccination programme underway, many hope that high rates of vaccination will allow Singapore to reach herd immunity so that life can get back to the pre-COVID-19 normal. We are sceptical for at least four reasons.

First, without a mandate or additional policies that strongly encourage vaccine uptake, it is unlikely that uptake rates will be high enough to reach herd immunity levels anytime soon.The current vaccine uptake is less than 25 per cent of the population based on the Ministry of Health’s reported 1.36 million people having received their first dose.

There is a long way to go to reach the 60 to 70 per cent rates required for herd immunity, not to mention that some population groups, including pregnant women and children under the age of 16, are not part of the vaccination programme at this moment.

READ: Commentary: Please don’t shout ‘coronavirus’ at peopleSecond, even if Singapore does reach herd immunity, the rest of the world will not. Given that vaccines are not 100 per cent effective, Singaporeans will always be at risk when people travel into the country or when they travel abroad.

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For example, it is believed that the new variant that originated in India led to Singapore’s recent surge of community cases.Third, and not unrelated, unlike what we were initially led to believe, vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna have now acknowledged that vaccinated individuals will likely need

within a year of their second jab because immunity wears off over time.This is certainly challenging given that the world has yet to produce enough vaccines for everyone.A healthcare worker receives the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) in Singapore December 30, 2020. Lee Jia Wen/Ministry of Communications and Information/Handout via REUTERS

Fourth, as with all viruses, the virus has been mutating. There are nowmany known variantsof concern that could lead to more severe disease symptoms and variants of interest that could be more transmissible. Mutations are expected to continue, if large outbreaks persist.

These suggest that, as with influenza, some form of COVID-19 may continue to circulate in the community for the foreseeable future. Read more: CNA »

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希望新冠病毒不再變種!大家一定要接種疫苗了,因為只有這樣病毒才不會四處傳播,到了最後就會再進一步變種了! Then get on with it...stop reversing back into previous phases...allow vaccinated people to be mask free...I don’t mind the safe distancing...even if you want to extend it...cos’ most sinkies doesn’t understand personal space...😷

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