PM Lee has said that he believes that Covid-19 will become endemic and will not disappear in the years to come. What does that mean for us?

On Monday, Singapore watched in rapt attention as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed the nation in a televised speech where he laid out the country's plans to tackle Covid-19 in the coming months. 

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In his speech, PM Lee said: “One day this global pandemic will subside but I do not expect Covid-19 to disappear. It will remain with humankind, and become endemic. The virus will continue to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come.

“Our aim must be to keep the community as a whole safe, while accepting that some people may get infected every now and then—just as we do with the common flu or dengue fever, which we now manage through public health measures and personal precautions, and in the case of the flu, with regular vaccinations too,” he said.

Overall, what does it mean for Covid-19 to become endemic? Read on to find out everything you need to know. 

What does endemic mean?

The term endemic refers to diseases that continue to remain in a population. It also means that infection rates will stay at a stable and predictable rate.

Much like how we have accepted dengue fever as part and parcel of our lives, we may have to do the same with Covid-19.

This also means that Covid-19 will likely not go away and could peak at certain points as well as see a dip during other periods.

Related: Covid-19 Singapore: No Further Tightening of Measures Expected, Current Restrictions Working

How will Covid-19 be managed if it is endemic?

So far, over 3.5 million people have died from Covid-19 since the pandemic began last year. The introduction of vaccines, however, slowly began to change that. In fact, it is believed that though you can be infected and infectious even after receiving the full Covid-19 vaccine, your symptoms will be significantly milder than if you were not vaccinated. 

As such, Singapore is currently making an effort to vaccinate as much of the population as possible quickly. Currently, school children, beginning with those sitting for their final leaving exams, will be vaccinated over the June holidays—which recently began.

Those aged 39 and below will hopefully get their vaccines by the middle of June, with booster shots possibly being introduced later on. 

As more people get vaccinated and we adapt to having Covid-19 as a constant presence, some of the regulations could possibly be relaxed moving forward. However, this is still some time away. 

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When exactly will Covid-19 become endemic?

Covid-19 is not endemic just yet. In fact, contact tracing and testing efforts are still going strong and will still continue to be stringent to avoid landing in a situation where the virus starts spreading uncontrollably in the community. This happened in a number of other countries such as India and Malaysia

In fact, it is currently estimated that it will take a number of years before Covid-19 can become endemic globally. This will give the world time to further improve the care of Covid-19 patients and to find ways to conquer the virus through better medical technology and treatments.

The government has stressed multiple times in the past that until the world is safe, we are not safe. So until then, we will have to continue to abide by all the government's regulations.

Related: Covid-19 Singapore: Vaccinations Opened for Those Aged 40 to 44, 2nd Vaccine Dose to Be Delayed