We are currently in the midst of our second major COVID19 outbreak in Singapore. Not sure I should call it second wave as that term was used before but take a look at the chart and this is the real second wave:
Clearly that little uptick in July/August last year does not deserve to be called the “second wave”. The past month has been the true second wave thanks the to delta variant. The big difference between the two spikes is who was affected. The blue bars above represent people living in overseas workers dormitories, while the yellow bars represent everyone else living in Singapore.
Much was made of Singapore being “blindsided” by the dormitory issue last year. During our first wave almost all cases were people residing in the dorms:
But now all the cases are “in the community”:
In addition to the difference between mostly affecting those living in dorms in the first wave and the general population in this new wave the other key difference is vaccination status. According to the Ministry of Health, 82% of residents are fully vaccinated, with an additional 3% having had one dose of the two dose vaccines. This makes a huge difference in the affect on people:
So we are all good right? 0.2% fatality rate seems low. Dispute this, the deaths in Singapore have accelerated in the past month or so:
We were steady in the upper 20s between July 2020 and July 2021, and in the past few months we have added almost 100 deaths. This curve is disturbing, even with the caveat about who is dying in the most recent update from the Ministry of Health:
As of 3 October 2021… 6 more cases have passed away from complications due to COVID-19 infection. Of these, 5 were male Singaporeans and 1 was a female Singaporean, aged between 68 and 91 years. Amongst them, 2 had been unvaccinated against COVID-19, and 4 had been vaccinated. 5 of them had various underlying medical conditions, while an unvaccinated case had no known medical conditions.Emphasis mine. Source: https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/update-on-local-covid-19-situation_3_October_2021
So, the deceased were older, and seem to have had “various underlying medical conditions” but 4 of the 6 on this day were vaccinated. Scary, but is this normal or an outlier? I couldn’t find anything showing the number of deaths vs. vaccination status on in government charts. Maybe I Missed it, but I did find “Deaths by Age Groups”:
I think who is dying is the key to the yo-yoing of restrictions. This whole deep dive into the numbers was triggered by a story in the South China Morning Press [scmp.com] shared on WhatsApp the other day. That article included this chart:
This shows something that is not clear from the data on the Ministry of Health site: the number of deaths among fully vaccinated people. There were 11 deaths among fully vaccinated people in September, more than the total number of deaths from March to July! And a quarter of all deaths in September were fully vaccinated people.
So, despite the fact that most people testing positive for COVID19 in the past 28 days are asymptomatic or had mild symptoms this wave is deadly. Already more than three times as deadly in Singapore than the previous year, and deadly even to some who were fully vaccinated.
Due to all of this the Government pushed us back into more restrictive stance. Not a lock down but a step backwards.
- Group size for “social gatherings and interactions”, in public or at home and including dine-in, reduced from 5 to 2 persons
- Work from home “the default” again; before it was 50% capacity for offices
Although, most things didn’t actually change (see here [moh.gov.sg]) the things that matter, that make the most difference day-to-day, did… You can see the conundrum… The death rates in Singapore are among the lowest in the world, and other places, with much higher rates of infection and death, like Israel or the UK, are “back to normal”. But for a politician if you say “lets open” and people die they you could take the hit. I suspect the government of Singapore would not want to be blamed for a higher death toll, to keep the reputation of having among the lowest death rates in the world. To be seen as setting an example of how to handle COVID19. But that means a very slow and cautious reopening that has been pulled back several times now. Given that all the deaths are among older people and those people were the first to be vaccinated I’m guessing we will continue with the tighter restrictions until the majority of over 60’s have had a booster shot to get that “deaths among vaccinated people” number down. But they just started the booster shot program so it could take a while.
One step forward, one step back…
All in all, Singapore is in much better shape than most places, so I shouldn’t complain too much but damn. I want to get on a plane and go somewhere… The biggest thing standing in the way right now is how bad it is in other places, only Germany and Bahrain are open for quarantine free travel, but I would totally go to Japan and spend two weeks in quarantine one the return. That is if Japan was open and if my younger daughter was vaccinated. But there is no approved vaccine for those under 12 yet, and Japan is closed. I envy those who live somewhere they can travel even a bit, by car or train to get out to the country or another city. You can’t go more then 20 kilometers from my house without needing a passport…