Vaccination helps protect against severe Covid-19 symptoms: MOH's Mak

More cases of worrisome variants circulating around the world have been detected here, and while vaccination may not prevent a person from getting Covid-19, it can protect people from becoming severely ill with the disease, the authorities said yesterday at a multi-ministry task force press conference.

Ministry of Health (MOH) director of medical services Kenneth Mak said of the 40 cases in the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) cluster, the nine who had received full doses of the Covid-19 vaccinations were either asymptomatic or exhibited mild symptoms, and none required oxygen support.

Seven were staff while the other two were patients, he said.

The remaining 31 people were either partially or not at all vaccinated. Of the latter group of unvaccinated individuals, seven required oxygen therapy, said Associate Professor Mak.

One of them, an 88-year-old woman who was being treated in Ward 9D, died of Covid-19 complications last Saturday. Prof Mak said the TTSH cluster had arisen from a viral variant, but the vaccine appears to have done relatively well against it.

Five of the cases from the TTSH cluster have the B1617 variant that originated in India, including the 46-year-old nurse who was the first detected case in the cluster.

She had received two doses of the vaccine and suffered mild symptoms of a cough, sore throat and body aches.

"The presence of these viral variants of concern amongst our local cases affirms our strategy to vaccinate all healthcare workers and prioritise vaccination for older Singaporeans," said Prof Mak. "Had we not done so, the TTSH cluster would have been significantly larger at this time, and the likelihood of that cluster getting out of control that much greater.

"It is therefore a reminder to all of us that we should get ourselves vaccinated and protected when our time comes and we cannot afford to be complacent."

Other variants identified in locally transmitted cases here include the B117 that originated in the United Kingdom, the B1351 that was first detected in South Africa and the P1 variant that originated in Brazil.

Task force co-chair, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong made a call for people, particularly the elderly who are more vulnerable to developing severe Covid-19, to get vaccinated.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.