Experts in S’pore Say Circuit Breaker Should be Turned On & Off Until a Vaccine is Approved

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If there is one thing that most if not all Singaporeans want during this circuit breaker period is that we want it to end, along with the coronavirus outbreak.

Of course, reality doesn’t always match up with our dreams and it seems like the coronavirus and the circuit breaker is going to stay for a little while longer:

Experts in S’pore Say Circuit Breaker Should be Turned On & Off Until a Vaccine is Approved

Not just one, but a panel of experts have stepped forward to warn us that intermittent rounds of circuit breakers might be needed until a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed.


Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore (NUS) said that Singapore is trying its best to prevent further spread of the coronavirus in the short term, however, more circuit breaker periods may be needed until a vaccine is found.

“It will have to be a series of tapping on the brakes … once every three to four months, we may have to have a circuit break just to allow the health system to recuperate,” he said during a webinar that was hosted by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) on Tuesday.

Necessary Until Populations Gain Herd Immunity

He explained that on and off circuit breaker periods might be necessary until populations gain herd immunity, for instance by “letting people be exposed to the virus or through vaccines.”

“I see that the vaccine is a viable exit strategy, but that is long-term,” he said.

So when will this vaccine be developed?

Experts believe that the development of the vaccine might require around 18 months to 24 months.

“In the short term, I realistically see that the natural response has to be a series of locking and unlocking, as well as having a global response on how do we identify countries where we are able to continue trade, to allow economic activity to resume to some degree,” he added.

Associate Professor Joanne Yoong, senior economist and director of the Centre for Economic and Social Research at the University of Southern California shares the same sentiment and said that “our best chance” for an exit strategy lies in a vaccine, but that will take about 18 months.

However, she pointed out that it may be hard for businesses and society to implement the measures on and off.

“We have to comply with these very strict measures … it’s going to be not just a marathon but perhaps a series of repeated sprints, and we’re going to have to have that mentality as we go forward,” she said.

Singapore’s Situation

One health expert believed that the virus will become endemic like the seasonal flu over time.

Prof Teo remains optimistic and believes that with the circuit breaker in place, community transmission will begin to taper off within the next one or two weeks.


He said that what is more worrying is the spread of the coronavirus among the country’s foreign workers.

“Things will look very hairy for the next one or two weeks before they start getting better,” he added.

Hang on guys, we can get through this.

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