Singapore has one of the lowest COVID-19 death rates in the world. Nevertheless, the mortality trends up to June 2022 show that there were increased deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. These ‘excess deaths’1 could be accounted for by deaths directly due to COVID-19, and deaths due to other causes but occurring shortly after COVID-19 infections.
2. As the COVID-19 situation stabilises, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has consolidated mortality data over the course of the pandemic to review its full impact. We found that relative to many other countries, Singapore has managed to keep our fatalities low due to our collective effort, and high COVID-19 vaccination and booster coverage. During the pandemic period of January 2020 to June 2022, the age-standardised death rate in Singapore residents increased from 525.0 in 2019 to 549.9 per 100,000 person-years, which is close to the level in 2018. This translates to an estimated 2,490 excess deaths over the two-and-a-half-year period, using the pre-COVID year of 2019 as a baseline.
3. As at end June 2022, our official death toll for COVID-19 was 1,403 for Singapore residents. Close to three-fifths of the excess deaths could be directly attributed to COVID-19, while the remainder of the excess deaths can be explained by patients who passed away from other illnesses within 90 days after being infected with COVID-19. In other words, COVID-19 aggravated existing illnesses, resulting in death.
4. Among COVID-19 deaths, there was an over-representation of persons who had not been fully vaccinated, who made up 28% of COVID-19 deaths occurring in the first half of 2022, even though only about 5% of the eligible population had not been fully vaccinated as of mid-March 2022.
5. Although our public hospitals were strained while coping with the pandemic, Singapore’s hospital and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds were able to support patients with urgent medical needs. Key indicators such as the rates of death within 30 days of presenting with a heart attack or stroke at our public hospitals in years 2020 to 2021 were comparable to rates seen in the previous years.
6. MOH has published the report on excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic up to June 2022 on MOH’s website (https://go.gov.sg/covid19-public-report).
7. As we continue our journey towards achieving COVID-19 resiliency, we must remain vigilant, and exercise personal protection and social responsibility. We urge everyone to ensure that your vaccination status is up-to-date, and to receive your primary series and booster doses as recommended, if you have not yet done so.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
18 SEPTEMBER 2022