Singapore – ‘learn to live with COVID’.

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  • rferguson
    Participant

    It has been the aim for many countries to eradicate COVID from their borders. Countries like Singapore, Australia and Taiwan are a few examples. Very strict lockdowns, vault strength borders – almost no one in or out.

    And yet, even with all this in place clusters of COVID keep emerging which lead to further lockdowns.

    Singapore now seems to realise that it cannot eradicate COVID, and no longer aims to. Instead, it intends to ‘tame it’.

    It’s vaccination program is key to this. It’s aim is to have two thirds of the population (including all vulnerable groups’ to be duouble jabbed by early August.

    The Health Minister of Singapore has announced things will fundamentally change after then.
    – There will be no goals of zero transmission
    – Vaccinated travellers will not need to quarantine and contacts will not need to isolate.
    – Daily infection numbers will not be provided to the media. Instead, the metrics will be analysing hospital admissions, how many are admitted to ICU, how many need to be intubated on oxygen etc.
    – Testing technology will be used to increase testing. It will be the first country to use new machines that people just breathe into and provide an almost instant result.

    Australia, although a much larger country, has been operating similarly to Singapore. A few cases of COVID in a capital city will make the nightly news and a few dozen will make state governments close their borders to other states. Borders are tightly controlled, contact tracing is efficient and yet clusters keep popping up causing chaos. Australia only recently announced a Travel Bubble with NZ. It has now been paused at short notice – for the third time since its launch less than a month ago.

    Unfortunately for Australia, its Vaccination program has been nowhere near as efficient as Singapores. Some could argue that the Australian Government didn’t see the urgency, given the low infection numbers and the fact they seemed to have ‘eradicate’ the virus from Aussie shores. Australia has so far administered 7.5m doses. Considering its population is around 22 million and each adult needs two doses it has a long way to go.

    A recent ‘super spreader’ event in Sydney (which led to the two week lockdown) was a good advertisement for vaccination however. Thrity people attended a party. Twenty four became COVID positive with the highly transmissable Delta variant. The six that didn’t become positive all had one thing in common – they had all been vaccinated. None of the twenty four that tested positive had been vaccinated.

    https://www.news.com.au/world/asia/singapores-surprising-new-plan-to-live-with-covid-revealed/news-story/52fa2c29252daeb4a3c634e1658f6901

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-28/vaccinated-attendees-west-hoxton-birthday-party-avoid-covid-19/100249612

    9 users thanked author for this post.

    FormerBA
    Participant

    This is good news but its not new. Vaccination has always been the key to this, certainly domestically.

    Once you have have a sizable vaccinated population you can begin to relax restrictions. When you don’t then its is vital you keep the virus and any of its variants out, particularly when they are more virulent such as the Delta variant.

    The problem the UK faces is that while it has had a successful vaccine roll out, allowing domestic restrictions to be relaxed, it has wasted this success by allowing the Delta variant not only to get into the UK but to then spread. This means other nations whose vaccination rates are lower will not want anyone from the UK anywhere near them.

    This highlights two issues; firstly that policy and direction is chaotic at best and lacks a coherent strategy. Secondly, test and trace is unfit for purpose. This latter issue is ably demonstrated by there being almost 200,000 school pupils off school isolating. Test and trace is a blunt instrument that is simply damaging us rather than being a surgical instrument to cure us.

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    LaWhore
    Participant

    I am critical of the UK Government too but for very different reasons.

    Like many governments around the world, Downing Street uses coercion to induce fear in the population through an intensive advertising campaign of the daily new coronavirus cases updates.

    We are at a stage where multiple vaccines are available to the adult population which makes providing such figures irrelevant at this point, something that has finally been recognised by the Singaporean government. The key number to look at is the amount of people becoming seriously ill from the disease which remains largely unchanged since the end of UK’s lockdown. This statistic however wouldn’t work in promoting Project Fear and the widely established fact that, although more transmittable, the Delta variant in vast majority of cases does not elude vaccines.

    We are now in an absurd situation where certain countries are entirely vaccinated yet still maintain strict border controls.

    Taking a vaccine is a private matter and it is not the responsibility of a democratic government to insist on controling the population through lockdowns and other freedom restricting regulations.

    Australia has set an unachievable goal of keeping COVID out of its borders medium term. Australia is and will continue to be paying heavily for this erroneous strategy.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    FormerBA
    Participant

    I am not sure I’d agree with everything you have said..

    The fear was real, 130,000 plus dead and images from Italy and New York last year which were truly horrible and more recently the scenes from India were a clear warning.

    I don’t know of any nation that is fully vaccinated and even the most successful are having to deal with outbreaks and spikes of infection. Israel for one and Singapore looks similar.

    Taking a vaccine may be a private matter but there is an argument that when your treatment for any subsequent illness is paid for from the public purse, your right to say no should perhaps be curtailed. Either that or you pay for the treatment. My own view is that the former is preferable than going down that very dark alley of the latter.

    I don’t think either NZ or OZ set out to keep Covid out, they merely took a decision that they did not wish to import death and illness on the scale of Italy, UK and USA that was seen at the start of this. For whatever reason their vaccination programme does appear to be very slow and they have perhaps squandered the time they have had. That said I am envious of how they have lived for the last 18 months compared to how I have.

    I do agree that once we have 70-80% are vaccinated then its time to live with this, but that should not mean we don’t strive to eradicate it as we have with smallpox and other viruses.

    4 users thanked author for this post.

    GivingupBA
    Participant

    I am not a medical person. But I absolutely fail to see why, here at the end of June 2021, any country on earth would fail to maximize efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible / as they can against Covid-19.

    Of course I see the problems, difficulties, and costs – that’s why I said “as many people as possible / as they can”.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    LaWhore
    Participant

    Eradicating COVID and its countless future mutations is about as realistic as being able to count all the grains of the sand in the Sahara. Humans have been very poor at eradicatimg airborne diseases, indeed we have not been able to eradicate something as seemingly simple as a flu.

    If the aim is to save lives, then efforts should be dictated by the mortality of the disease, far more people can be saved by providing developing nations with malaria tablets. People are instead fixated on spending unimaginable amounts of money on efforts beyond the original vaccine which will save few extra lives. The cost/benefit ratio is unacceptable.

    And there’s the issue of the 130k deaths you have brought up as it is yet another irrelevant statistic. The average age of death from COVID is higher than the average age of death overall in the UK. A large amount of those who have died from COVID at an old age would have died the same year anyway. What is helpful is quoting the number of excess deaths versus a 5 year average, although this of course does not comply with Project Fear to the same degree. There is no doubt that COVID has caused great amount of suffering and some people, which otherwise wouldn’t have died, had passed away. The measures taken to combat a disease with a 99% survivability rate are vastly disproportionate to the threat posed. I will not even begin to describe the socioeconomic consequences of lockdowns. Here too, the cost/benefit ratio is unacceptable.

    Many thousands have perished in civil aviation accidents since it’s creation yet we still travel on aircraft. We have learnt to accept the small risk of being involved in an aircraft accident. Humans have behaved in a similar fashion throughout history, from utilising the nuclear energy to driving on a motorway at 100mph.

    Gibraltar has a fully vaccinated population with no COVID outbreaks. Spike in infections in Israel is irrelevant as it does not lead to a spike in hospitalisations. Similar story in Singapore, although fewer people are vaccinated.

    I completely agree that people who refuse a vaccine and end up being a burden on the health system should pay for their own treatment. But then this should also be the case for alcohol related injuries so this leads to another much bigger discussion.

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    DavidSmith2
    Participant

    Creating a situation where you have to pay for treatment, if you can be shown to be responsible, or at least partially responsible for it does, as FormerBA says, take us down a dark alley. Alcohol abuse? drug abuse? Obesity? Failing to take a doctor’s advice? Taking part in dangerous sports? Or any sports? Driving a car?

    It would be a very slippery slope. Compulsory vaccine, with penalties for non-compliant people as a last resort, would be my preference. But even better to educate and inform, as far as possible. You will never get 100% compliance and the UK has a pretty high level now but we can still do more to persuade the rest.

    This should allow for a close to full opening up of the UK, but international travel will always remain as weak as the weakest link in the chain and it can cut both ways. A few weeks ago, the UK had a very low rate and the risk came from abroad. Now we have a relatively high rate (by European standards) and the risk comes from us.

    Vaccination is ultimately the long-term solution, not least to reduce the likely number of variants, but I doubt we will see anything close to a full opening up of international travel until next summer, at the earliest. A UK/EU/US deal may well come much sooner than that and will satisfy many travellers (both business & leisure ones), but a full global reopening, involving Asia, Africa, Oceania and S America will take much, much longer I fear.

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    rferguson
    Participant

    I agree DavidSmith2.

    Accident & Emergency Department and Police resources are literally inundated with the results of excessive alcohol intake on weekends (well pre pandemic anyway).

    It’s quite incredible the pressure they put on emergency departments in hospitals, especially as alcohol induced admissions often coincide with a head injury.
    These are particularly draining on staff resources, having to be kept in for a minimum period of time, observed no less than every 15 minutes etc. And yet, while all this is going on, they are often still inebriated thrashing around in their beds having the times of their lives.

    I also agrees with what La Whora says. The overwhelming majority of those that have sadly lost their lives due to COVID have been elderly or had serious pre-existing medical conditions. We do live in a society where everyone wants to live for ever these days. Which is simply not sustainable. And younger generations are paying the highest price due to the lockdowns. School students, young people working in the hospitality industries.

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    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    Your explanation rferguson, how Singapore is changing its Covid strategy makes interesting reading, but does highlight the need for countries to work together and not in isolation. The UK proudly announced Singapore being on the UK’s Green list, but at the same time Singapore did not consider the UK in a similar manner. What was the point of Singapore being on the UK Green list.??

    It seems every jurisdictions “scientific evidence” differs. Australia tries to keep Covid out closing its borders. Asia is currently requiring 2 – 3 weeks strict quarantine, the EU promoting or trying to promote free travel within the EU, but at the same time closing the UK off. The UK is testing like crazy highlighting the number of new daily infections, whilst the USA expects the G-d given right to travel freely to the UK, but considers UK nationals to be too contagious to be allowed into the USA.

    Perhaps if countries tried working together more and not living in fear of each other, a healthier solution to a faster opening opening of international travel could happen. As many have pointed out, (and I have found out) it has never been more challenging and expensive for a double vaccinate passenger to travel.

    So, well done Singapore for your fresh and well intended approach to Covid – but unless other countries share similar views, there remains little chance of international travel being any closer to freely opening or the world learning to live with Covid.

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    rferguson
    Participant

    Agree with you MartynSinclair.

    I guess the biggest problem with COVID is the situation evolves so quickly and now it all seems to come down to how many of your population are vaccinated – especially those vulnerable to hospitalisation.

    In Australian media a few weeks ago, many were predicting a Travel Bubble between Australia and Singapore very soon. As you mention, with this kind of scenario you need two countries on the same page. Esentially closed borders either end. Now that Singapore (who has high vaccination rates and can be more relaxed about importing new COVID cases) has set out a road map very different, Australia will likely be unable to accept a bubble with a country ‘opening up’ to others.

    We are seeing the same in europe. My german friend messages me with genuine concern of the Delta variant running wild in the UK with the German media seemingly painting a picture of Third Wave devastation here. Which, of course when they quote 25k new daily cases, it sounds like it. But, daily cases are becoming a poor measurement in a country like the UK with high vaccination rates as they are nearly all occuring in the young, unvaccinated who are very unlikely to suffer any serious illness. Numbers like hospitalisations would be more relevant.

    Germany has had a relatively poor vaccination program, hence its desire to keep the UK out of any ‘common bloc’ deal on health. They have already witnessed a large amount of UK travellers travel to Portugal as a (former) Green list country, and within weeks of this Portugal had a huge increase in the Delta variant which was likely imported by Brits Abroad. Obviously, Portuguese citizens can travel without restriction to Germany taking the Delta variant with them. And this can obviously have huge repercussions in a country with low vaccination rates.

    The US issue seems to not be helped by the fact that the US Government does not recognise the AstraZenaca vaccine which would obviously cause issues for those UK citizens that have received it. On top of that, the US government has been loathe to come up with any type of Vaccine Passport providing ‘proof’ of vaccination for its citizens which would lead to chaos at borders with no common/uniform US document.

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    ASK1945
    Participant

    My german friend messages me with genuine concern of the Delta variant running wild in the UK with the German media seemingly painting a picture of Third Wave devastation here. Which, of course when they quote 25k new daily cases, it sounds like it. But, daily cases are becoming a poor measurement in a country like the UK with high vaccination rates as they are nearly all occuring in the young, unvaccinated

    I have been saying for months, to anybody who will listen, that the UK government should stop issuing misleading statistics. It is acknowledged by all that the UK is the leading country for genome sequencing and identification of variants. Most countries are unable to do this and simply cannot identify which Covid virus they have. The climate of fear, generated (I believe) to persuade people to get vaccinated, is persuading countries to shut their doors against UK traveller – thereby not letting the UK’s politicians take a hit from criticism about the restrictive travel plans.

    Numbers like hospitalisations would be more relevant.

    Absolutely agree. And the number of excess deaths (over and above what is normal for this time of the year). I believe that this figure is running lower than is usual for the Summer months. But it is more relevant than the absolute number that is quoted daily – which anyway is “dodgy” because it may include those who actually died from other causes but had been diagnosed as Covid positive.

    I am in no way a “Covid denier”. It can be serious. But (I believe) will be with us for ever in the same way as ‘flu, which also can be serious. It will lead to deaths. However, society will need to learn with Covid, balance the risks and develop treatments to reduce the severity. Once the vaccination percentage has hit over 90% and a decision made about how frequently further shots will need to be given (6-monthly, annually, 5-yearly or whatever) maybe the politicians can stop the scaremongering.

    The US issue seems to not be helped by the fact that the US Government does not recognise the AstraZenaca vaccine which would obviously cause issues for those UK citizens that have received it.

    Could you please point us to your reference for this. I have Google searched and cannot find it. Yes, the US has not approved the AZ vaccine for use in the USA, but I cannot find any official decision published that they will not accept the vaccination status of those who have been double jabbed with AZ, or for that matter other vaccines not yet approved for vaccination of US citizens. Indeed, it may be the reason why they have continued to delay letting tourists into the USA. But we don’t know.

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    RoyJones
    Participant

    My german friend messages me with genuine concern of the Delta variant running wild in the UK with the German media seemingly painting a picture of Third Wave devastation here. Which, of course when they quote 25k new daily cases, it sounds like it. But, daily cases are becoming a poor measurement in a country like the UK with high vaccination rates as they are nearly all occuring in the young, unvaccinated

    The Germans are running a campaign to keep Brits out of the EU, very sennsible from their point of view with a low vaccination rate the Delta variant would cause their numbers to soar. And the most likely way of getting it is mixing of German [and other EU] holidaymakers with British in the Meditteranean. A real conundrum


    DavidSmith2
    Participant

    Could you please point us to your reference for this. I have Google searched and cannot find it. Yes, the US has not approved the AZ vaccine for use in the USA, but I cannot find any official decision published that they will not accept the vaccination status of those who have been double jabbed with AZ, or for that matter other vaccines not yet approved for vaccination of US citizens. Indeed, it may be the reason why they have continued to delay letting tourists into the USA. But we don’t know.

    This is my understanding too. There is a recent FT article which supports that position. The AZ vaccine has not been approved for use in the US and is unlikely to be approved for a long time. But so far, no decision has been made on whether to recognise the AZ vaccine for non-US residents. There is a similar issue with the EU in terms of recognising the Covishield vaccine which is the one produced by the Serum Institute in India, under licence from AZ. It has not been authorised for use in the EU but it is unclear whether non-EU residents can enter EU countries with it. Given it is the main vaccine provided under the UN Covax initiative (in Africa & elsewhere).

    But in practice, I can report that my wife was allowed into Slovenia on Monday with the Covishield vaccination certificate.

    These are all things which need to be ironed out through bilateral or multilateral agreements I think.

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    ASK1945
    Participant

    Roy Jones: not really a “conundrum”.

    I believe that virus variants are already out there, but are just not being identified – as I outlined above. I also believe that the German and other EU governments know this, but are being pragmatic, balancing risk against damage.

    What is known is that Covid, as a generic virus, is much greater in many EU countries whose residemts are not barred from the beaches of Spain, Greece and Portugal. The residents of these countries are also less likely to have been double-vaccinated than UK holiday makers. Whilst vaccination does not stop the spreading, it does make it less likely.

    So, why the campaign against the UK? I will keep my view of the reasons out of this thread, which is about the spread of Covid.

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    LaWhore
    Participant

    The disproportionate responses introduced by various governments around the world to new variants have been and will continue to be nothing but a global PR campaign to coerce the human population into taking a jab. It has nothing to do with safety, vaccines continue to be the most effective weapon against covid and there is no data to suggest new mutations have are more deadly.

    Australia is now a victim of its own success. It has managed to keep COVID out but it’s created a paradox where the lack of widespread devastation lead to a low vaccine uptake.

    Humans are easily controlled by fear, something governments realized very quickly. We no longer hear about the South African, Brazilian or the Kent variant not because they have been eradicated but because their fifteen minutes of fame had passed.

    The sheep, to remain compliant, have to be continuously fed with a never ending influx of new threats. And there is no better way of achieving that if not by promoting the pesky variant as originating in some remote and poverty stricken nation.

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