As people's antibodies wane, next Covid-19 variant wave could emerge: Ong Ye Kung

He emphasised that it is not about the case numbers, but rather the number of people who become severely ill.

Jane Zhang | June 05, 2022, 07:53 PM

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On Jun. 2, Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung said that the next Covid-19 wave could hit Singapore in a "matter of months, maybe July, maybe August", CNA reported.

On Sunday (Jun. 5), Ong reiterated his July/August estimate and explained that the wave could emerge as people's Covid-19 antibodies — either from past infections or vaccinations — begin to wane.

Wave could emerge when antibodies start to wane

During a visit to the upcoming Bukit Canberra integrated sport and community hub on Sunday, Ong said that the next wave will be driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants, based on the situation in other parts of the world, according to The Straits Times.

The BA.4 and BA.5 variants of concern were first detected in South Africa and reached Singapore's shores in May.

Ong stated that four to six months after an infection wave subsides, we should expect another one to rise.

"Nothing will happen until months later when our antibodies start to wane, then you can see BA.4 and BA.5 emerging by July or August...that's our estimate."

He added that while there have been some cases of the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants in Singapore, they have not surpassed the BA.1 or BA.2 strains.

He emphasised that it is not about the case numbers, but rather the number of people who become severely ill.

"I believe that with our strong resilience, we can ride through a period of BA.4 and BA.5," he said.

Need to be more Covid-ready

In the Jun. 2 work plan seminar, Ong highlighted the need for healthcare settings such as nursing homes, community hospitals and private hospitals to be able to handle Covid-19 patients, CNA and ST reported.

He also laid out several ways to make more hospital beds available "in case pressures start to build up in our hospitals again".

Home care services are being rolled out by hospitals so people can receive care at home and hospital beds will be freed up.

The number of nursing home beds will be increased so long-term hospital patients waiting for such spots can be moved there.

Community treatment facilities also need to be redesigned to take in more than just elderly Covid-19 patients, but any patient who does not require the acute care that a hospital provides.

The government will also persuade more eligible seniors aged 60 and above to get their booster shots. This is the most vulnerable group, Ong said, and about 12 per cent of them have yet to do so.

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Top photo via Facebook/Tan Tock Seng Hospital.