Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Covid-19: Lawrence Wong warns against overreacting to infection of fully vaccinated persons

SINGAPORE — The coronavirus infections of fully vaccinated medical workers at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) are possible “breakthrough infections” but this should not be a cause to reject the jab, the Government's Covid-19 task force said.

Covid-19: Lawrence Wong warns against overreacting to infection of fully vaccinated persons

Investigations are ongoing to see if the coronavirus infections at Tan Tock Seng Hospital are "breakthrough infections", that is, infections of person who have been properly vaccinated.

  • The authorities are already aware of possible vaccine “breakthrough infections”
  • Vaccination does not provide 100 per cent immunity against Covid-19
  • Instead, it increases an individual’s resistance to getting symptomatic infections
  • It also reduces the risk of a person getting infected and spreading the virus

 

SINGAPORE — The coronavirus infections of fully vaccinated medical workers at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) are possible “breakthrough infections” but this should not be a cause to reject the jab, the Government's Covid-19 task force said.  

The task force’s co-chairman Lawrence Wong said during a press conference on Friday (April 30) that “breakthrough infections” are not new and can happen, and “we should not overreact” to such cases if they arise.

A vaccine breakthrough infection refers to the infection of fully vaccinated individuals although this has not yet been confirmed in relation to the TTSH cases since investigations into the disease source and spread are ongoing and also on whether they were properly vaccinated.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that TTSH was Singapore’s first healthcare cluster of infections.

Giving an update of the situation on Friday, the task force said that a total of 13 Covid-19 cases have been identified among the staff members and patients of the hospital, of which there are eight patients, two doctors, a nurse, a cleaner and a healthcare assistant.

Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at MOH, said that of the employees, “four or five” had received vaccinations against Covid-19.

Among the patients, two had received some vaccination — one had received only a single dose, while another was fully vaccinated.

Responding to a question about how the hospital cluster started, Assoc Prof Mak said that there is no clear answer yet since investigations are still ongoing.

What the authorities do know, he said, is that the first case involved a nurse who, due to protocols in place at the hospital, immediately reported herself and sought care after developing mild respiratory symptoms.

This allowed the authorities to detect the infection, start contact tracing and testing of the hospital’s workers and patients.

Still, Assoc Mak noted that the nurse “may not be the original patient that was infected, nor the cause for other patients and staff to be infected as well”.

IMPROVES PROTECTION, REDUCES RISK

Assoc Prof Mak said that vaccinations provide some level of immune protection.

“But as is illustrated by this cluster (at TTSH), vaccination doesn't provide 100 per cent protection,” he said.

Instead, it increases an individual’s resistance to getting symptomatic infections, while reducing the risk of them getting infected and spreading the virus.

He added that the vaccinations “would remain protective for the wide majority of the population and staff who had received those vaccinations”.

In any case, investigations are underway to find out if the vaccinated individuals who became infected were properly vaccinated.

So far, he said preliminary results showed that there was neither any issues with the quality of the vaccines received nor any concerns about the cold chain supply to the centres where the individuals received their vaccinations.

“It is certainly a possibility that this reflects vaccination breakthrough cases, but it requires further study before we can properly characterise them, and this is ongoing,” Assoc Prof Mak said.

When asked by TODAY about the severity of the infections among fully vaccinated individuals, Assoc Prof Mak said that the affected medical workers have “either been asymptomatic, or at best have had very mild symptoms”.

It is a different case for patients, however, as they are already in hospital for a variety of different medical conditions that might lead to them being quite ill, he added.

Furthermore, he noted that some patients are in frail health as well due to their advanced age.

“Because of this, it's a bit difficult for us now at this stage to assess whether or not they have a worse prognosis on the basis of infection,” he added.

‘GET VACCINATED’

Mr Wong, who is Education Minister, stressed the point again about the importance of getting vaccinated because it not only improves an individual’s immunity against infection, but reduces the chances of getting severely infected.

“We should not overreact to the news of breakthrough infections, or worse, make the biggest mistake of saying, ‘Oh, vaccinations don't work, and therefore there is no need for a vaccine’. That would be disastrous,” he said.

“The more of us who are vaccinated, the bigger the impact will be in reducing overall transmission of the virus in our community.

“So once again, we really encourage everyone who is medically eligible, or who are in the age groups to get yourselves vaccinated, to make a booking if you have not done so already,” he said.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus TTSH breakthrough infection Lawrence Wong vaccination

Read more of the latest on

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa