SINGAPORE – With around seven in 10 people here having been infected with Covid-19, the next big wave will likely be a wave of reinfections.

While Singapore is more resilient now given that its current wave has just subsided, the Republic needs to be prepared for a year-end wave that may be caused by a variant of concern that dodges immunity from past infection, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday morning (Aug 24).

Mr Ong noted at a multi-ministry task force (MTF) on Covid-19 press conference that reinfection cases have climbed to about 5.5 per cent of infections here this month, compared with about 3 per cent of cases the last time he updated Parliament.

“We have far fewer Covid-19-naive individuals, which means that our next wave must comprise many reinfections,” Mr Ong said, noting that immunity gained from infection will also wane over time.

This is why the Ministry of Health is closely monitoring reinfection numbers, as this will give the authorities an idea when the next wave can happen, he added.

Data has shown that the probability of reinfection eight months later is still very low at around 5 per cent compared with the risk faced by someone who has not been infected by Covid-19 before – which is a good sign, he said.

Mr Ong noted that countries in the northern hemisphere, such as the United States and in Europe, are all preparing for a winter wave and possibly a new variant of concern..

Singapore should, likewise, prepare itself, said Mr Ong: “It may even be a new variant of concern with significant immunity escape.”

A key part of these preparations is managing healthcare capacity, he said.