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1.     We are at Hong Kah North Community Club where we are deploying our Mobile Vaccination Team today.

2.     Let me explain our current COVID-19 situation. It is calm and stable; cases are on the low side and we are coming out of the XBB wave. Hospitals are still busy, especially our Emergency Departments, but the volume of patients is lower now. There is a sigh of relief, and everything is generally calm. However, at the same time, we also want to be prepared as the pandemic is still going on.

3.     Specifically, there are a few things on the horizon. First, we are into the winter season in the northern hemisphere, when there is more spreading of diseases, not just COVID-19 but also influenza, all of which will add to hospitals’ load. Secondly, it is a big unknown in terms of what is happening in China. They are taking swift decisive steps to open their economy and society. This is bound to drive up the infections which we are not so worried about per se, because our resilience is high. We have gone already through three waves this year. But the question is, with 1.3 billion people mostly uninfected in China, and with the disease starting to spread, we are bound to get new variants, and what worries us more is what kind of mutations will come out of it. That is what we are watching.

4.     Locally, as I mentioned, the situation is stable. But as you know, we also changed our vaccination definition in recent months, from counting the number of shots in booster, to having a concept of up to date vaccination.

5.     Essentially when we look at how the disease has evolved, amongst those infected, the severity rate is quite low. In total, about 5,000 to 10,000 required oxygen supplementation, ended up in the intensive care unit (ICU) or died. About 2% ended up in hospitals during the recent XBB wave. So, in terms of disease outcomes with our current resilience, it is not that severe because of our vaccination coverage.

6.     But amongst the older people, those aged 70 and above and with vaccination status which is not up to date, or without even minimum protection, it is a lot higher. We get about 70 deaths or ICU cases per 10,000 infections with no minimum protection, which is quite significant compared to about five deaths or ICU cases per 10,000 infections. In the end this is still about protecting our seniors, making sure they have up-to-date vaccination. Amongst this older group, we still have about 60% with up-to-date vaccination, so we have about 40% without up-to-date vaccination. Which is why I think during this lull period, when things are calm, we encourage them to please come out and get an up-to-date shot.

7.     Today we have both Moderna and Pfizer bivalent vaccines available. From today for the month of December, we are sending out five teams to different parts of Singapore, where there are more elderly population. For each site, they will stay about three days, and then they will rotate around. This will bring vaccination closer to the homes of our seniors, and hopefully more of you will come forward to take your vaccination, and get yourself updated.

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