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Covid-19 Wave Expected As Antibodies Wane, But Our Strong Resilience Can Tide Through: Ong Ye Kung

Next Covid-19 Wave Driven By BA.4 & BA.5 Expected As People’s Antibodies Wane

Last Thursday (2 Jun), Health Minister Ong Ye Kung warned that there is a possibility that the next Covid-19 wave will hit Singapore in the coming months.

Later on Sunday (5 Jun), Mr Ong elaborated that as people’s antibodies begin to wane, the country can expect a rise in cases sometime in July or August.

This will likely be driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants.

Nonetheless, the minister believes Singapore will be able to ride through the period thanks to our strong resilience.

People’s antibodies will wane over coming months

Currently, countries like South Africa are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

Speaking during his site visit to Bukit Canberra on Sunday (5 Jun), Mr Ong said Singapore is already seeing some cases of these sub-variants.

But the number of cases has not overtaken those of the BA.1 and BA.2 sub-variants.

This is because people’s antibodies are still “very high” thanks to vaccinations and the recent Omicron wave.

However, Mr Ong said the next wave will emerge as people’s antibodies start to wane.

“Nothing will happen until months later when our antibodies start to wane,” he explained. “Then, you can see BA.4 and BA.5 possibly emerging.”

Covid-19 wave driven by BA.4 and BA.5 to be expected

The next wave of Covid-19 will happen “not due to any complex modelling effort”, Mr Ong said.

He shared that it’s “just the fact that once the wave subsides, four, five, six months later, we should expect another wave”.

By then, the most dominant variant should be the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants.

In any case, Singapore can observe places such as the United States and Europe as the wave would likely hit there first.

The BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants were first detected in South Africa early this year. They are now causing a surge in Covid-19 cases globally, reported The Straits Times (ST).

Singapore detected the country’s first three cases of the sub-variants in May.

Previously, Mr Ong said that both variants have mutations in the spike protein which give them “greater immune escape properties”.

This means that BA.4 and BA.5 are highly transmissible compared to BA.1 and BA.2, which were responsible for the Omicron wave in early 2022.

Singapore will be able to ride through next Covid-19 wave

On Sunday, Mr Ong reiterated, “The most important thing is not the case numbers, but how many people fall severely ill.”

He believes that with our strong resilience, Singapore will be able to ride through the BA.4 and BA.5 period.

During the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s annual work plan seminar on 2 Jun, Mr Ong called for all healthcare settings to be ready to handle the next wave of patients.

This includes nursing homes and community hospitals.

He said that Singapore needs to ramp up our defences by making more hospital beds available in case pressure builds up again.

Source: Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) on Facebook

According to MOH, there were 2,256 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases on Sunday (5 Jun). This is down from the 2,879 cases the previous day.

The number of hospitalisations in Singapore now stands at 290, with 29 requiring oxygen supplementation.

Eight people are currently in the intensive care unit (ICU), and there was one death on 5 Jun.

Glad authorities are staying vigilant

With large events resuming and no restrictions on group sizes, Singapore residents have been enjoying a return to some semblance of our pre-pandemic freedoms.

Still, it is important to remember that the fight against Covid-19 is still ongoing.

We’re glad that authorities are staying vigilant and ensuring Singapore continues to be ready to handle any developments in the future.

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Featured image adapted from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) on Facebook.

Sabrina Seng

Sabrina is always facing some form of existential crisis but other than that, she's pretty chill.

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