SINGAPORE: Vaccination remains Singapore’s primary line of defence as it forges ahead and learns to live with Covid-19, according to the republic’s Ministry of Health (MOH) today.

Since Aug 29, 2022, Singapore has stepped down almost all of its Safe Management Measures (SMMs), save for mask-wearing in healthcare facilities and public transport.

As of Oct 6, 2022, the ministry said average daily infections in the community over a 7-day period rose to 4,400 from around 2,600 a week ago.

Hospitalised cases have also increased from 247 a week ago to 342, and the number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) cases has increased to 13 from nine within the same period, it said.

“This is likely due to increased social activities, SMMs being stepped down, and also the BA.2.75 and BA.2.10 Omicron subvariants, which have been detected around the world, now circulating in Singapore,” MOH said in a statement here.

MOH said the increase in daily cases is not unexpected, “as we open up our society and economy.”

“What is important is to protect our healthcare capacity, and ensure that infections do not translate into large numbers of severely ill patients.

“So far, there is no evidence that the subvariants result in more severe illness,” it said.

Nevertheless, MOH said Singapore needed to keep its Covid-19 vaccination up-to-date as vaccination has become its primary defence against Covid-19.

Therefore, MOH said it will roll out primary vaccination from Oct 25, 2022 for children aged six months to four years, booster vaccination for children aged five years and above, and bivalent vaccines as boosters for those aged 50 and older, or persons yet to achieve minimum protection.

“Further, instead of counting the number of shots and boosters we receive, we will transit to a new definition of up-to-date vaccination.

“This is similar to Influenza vaccination, where individuals are advised to take them periodically, so as to protect ourselves against new strains of the endemic Influenza virus as they arise,” it said.

The ministry also said that bivalent vaccines will replace the current messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines.

“This updated bivalent vaccine will provide better protection against newer Covid-19 variants,” it said.

For example, MOH said it will replace the original Moderna/Spikevax vaccines with the updated bivalent version from Oct 17, 2022 for all vaccinations using the Moderna/Spikevax vaccine, for all adults aged 18 years and above.

The Pfizer/Comirnaty bivalent vaccine meanwhile is undergoing evaluation and is expected to be available by the end of this year, it said.

Among others, MOH noted that the republic has learned to live with the Covid-19 virus, having weathered several infection waves and progressively lifted SMMs.

As it resumes normalcy in its daily activities, MOH will lift Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS) fully from Oct 10, 2022.

“This means that VDS will no longer be required for events with more than 500 participants at any one time, nightlife establishments where dancing among patrons is one of the intended activities, and dining in at Food & Beverage (F&B) establishments, including hawker centres,” it explained. - Bernama