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Singapore could expect new Omicron COVID-19 wave in July or August as antibodies wane: Ong Ye Kung

Singapore could expect new Omicron COVID-19 wave in July or August as antibodies wane: Ong Ye Kung

A COVID-19 swabbing station at Block 506 Hougang Ave 8 on May 21, 2021. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Singapore could expect a new Omicron wave “possibly emerging” in July or August, as COVID-19 antibodies start to wane, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Sunday (Jun 5).

Speaking on the sidelines of a visit to an upcoming sports and community hub in Bukit Canberra on Sunday, Mr Ong said the Ministry of Health has detected some COVID-19 cases of the new BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

However, it has not “overtaken” the BA.2 subvariant, said Mr Ong, referring to the Omicron variation which made up 99 per cent of the local COVID-19 infections sequenced in April.

“The reason is because we all have very high antibodies, because of our vaccination, because of our recent Omicron wave.

“So nothing will happen until months later, when our antibodies start to wane, then you can see BA.4 and (BA.5) possibly emerging July or August. That's our estimate,” said Mr Ong.

He added that the estimated timeline is not due to any “complex modelling effort”, but the fact that once an outbreak subsides, Singapore should expect another wave to rise, four to six months later.

“And the most dominant wave will rise, and by then I think it would be BA.4 or BA.5,” said Mr Ong.

BA.4 and BA.5 are two Omicron subvariants driving the current COVID-19 wave in South Africa. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has classified them as variants of concern.

Singapore detected three community cases with the two subvariants in May, with two cases infected with the BA.4 variant and one local case infected with the BA.5 variant, said MOH.

Mr Ong added on Sunday that Singapore can “observe” the US and Europe, as the new COVID-19 wave would “more likely” happen in those areas before reaching Singapore.

“The most important thing is not the case numbers, but how many people fall severely ill.

“I do believe with our strong resilience, we can ride through a BA.4 and BA.5 wave,” he said.

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Source: CNA/lk(ta)

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