INTERVENTION BY MINISTER FOR HEALTH, MR ONG YE KUNG ON STRENGTHENING WHO PREPAREDNESS FOR AND RESPONSE TO HEALTH EMERGENCIES

Published date27 May 2022
Publication titleASEAN Tribune

27 May 2022 (Ministry of Health, Singapore) 1. When COVID-19 first broke out, the world was ill-prepared. Whether it was testing, surveillance, quarantine, contact tracing, availability of hospital beds, ventilators, we were not prepared. Supply chains disrupted, schools closed, borders closed.

2. Then came Omicron wave, and I think we were better prepared. All the systems, facilities, processes were better in place. And thankfully, Omicron was a less severe variant compared to Delta.

3. A next infection wave will inevitably come, it may either be BA.4 and BA.5, or some other new variant totally - hopefully not as severe. The question is, will we be well prepared, when it comes, likely in the winter of this year.

4. A lot of work has gone in, a lot of initiatives have been rolled out, and Singapore is thankful for all these initiatives. So I don't want to go into that, I'd rather just touch on one issue, which is an issue of mindset and focus.

5. I hope that WHO and the world, we will focus on the bottom-line, which is how many people will die, and fall severely ill, instead of the top-line, which is how many people get infected.

6. The reason why I say that is because the science is pointing us in that direction, because the virus will continue to mutate quite quickly. Variant-specific vaccines will take months, I think six months, to develop, and still, many more months to produce, so we cannot keep up with the mutations.

7. So the best thing to...

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