SINGAPORE - Several countries have eased Covid-19 restrictions faster than Singapore because of higher vaccination rates in the population and also on account of the number of people who developed immunity after they were infected, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Tuesday (July 20).
He was addressing a question on continued restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals in Singapore, which had announced further restrictions in the wake of a spike in coronavirus cases here.
Speaking at a virtual press conference held by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, Mr Ong offered three reasons for Israel and Britain relaxing measures recently.
First, they have a higher vaccination rate than Singapore. As at Monday, about 50 per cent here have received the two shots. The corresponding figures are 61 per cent for Israel and 53 per cent for Britain.
Second, Mr Ong noted that these places had undergone "waves of very traumatic transmissions".
This means many people there are recovered Covid-19 patients, who have natural immunity to the virus, he said.
Third, they have very high rates of vaccination among their seniors.
"(This) explains why they are a lot more confident in opening up the economy. And so this is also what we should work towards," said Mr Ong.
About 71 per cent of seniors aged 70 and above here have been vaccinated. Another 100,000 or so in this age group have yet to be vaccinated, Mr Ong added.
"They have a high likelihood of falling critically ill once infected. Almost every one of them, if infected, will end up in hospital because they are high risk, and 10 to 15 per cent of them, based on our experience, will end up in the ICU (intensive care unit)."
He added: "In our case, (with) 50 per cent fully vaccinated or received two doses, plus having 200,000 or more seniors above 60 still unvaccinated, I think we still have work to do."
Correction note: An earlier version of the story misstated Britain's vaccination rate. It should be 53 per cent for the entire population. We are sorry for the error.