Lawrence Wong: Covid-19 Pandemic Could Last 4 to 5 Years


When it was announced that several effective Covid-19 vaccines were developed, everyone started making vacation plans in their heads.

Our savior has finally arrived. The vaccine will end our misery and bring back normalcy!

But alas, life is not that simple.

Firstly, it will take some time to immunize an entire country, especially large populations like the US and India.

Secondly, not every country has access to vaccines at the moment, meaning the coronavirus could easily find its way back to our shores once global travel restarts.

Taking all this into account, we’ll probably only return to pre-coronavirus life by the end of this year, right?

Well, everyone’s been saying the pandemic will end in 2022, so we have less than a year to go until-

Lawrence Wong: Covid-19 Pandemic Could Last 4 to 5 Years

Why am I not surprised?

The Covid-19 pandemic may be around for a little longer than we’d like, according to our Education Minister Lawrence Wong.

Speaking at the Institute of Policy Studies’ Singapore Perspectives Conference, Mr Wong predicted that it could be four or five years before the devastating pandemic ends.

This means, Mr Wong said, that we’ll have to get used to this new way of living for the rest of this year and a good chunk of next year as well.

Mandatory mask wearing, safe distancing, and avoiding crowded places will continue to be a part of our everyday life, he said.

But that’s not the only bad news the co-chair of the Covid-19 task force had for us.

Current Vaccines May Not Be Effective Against South African Covid-19 Strain

One of the obstacles in eradicating Covid-19 is how quickly it mutates.

One such mutated strain was discovered in South Africa recently, and is believed to be more contagious.

Mr Wong revealed that initial research suggests current vaccines may not be so effective against the South African mutant strain.


We all seem to be starring in a horror movie that will never end. 

The best-case scenario is that the vaccines work against all strains of the virus.

On the other hand, these vaccinations could be like flu jabs; where new ones are formulated regularly to combat new mutations.

In the worst-case scenario, we’d always be a step behind the evolving virus.

Even if vaccines were effective against all strains, we’d have to ensure that every country has access to them.


As Mr Wong pointed out: in this globalised world, “no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

We Can Bounce Back

Mr Wong also cited several examples of cities throughout history that have bounced back after a pandemic.

14th-century Florence, for example, thrived after combating the bubonic plague and later launched the Renaissance movement.

Some American cities also experienced a boom in the 1920s, after the 1918 pandemic.

It may sound overly-optimistic, but the pandemic may even bring about some positive changes.

For instance, the pandemic has raised our awareness over the importance of good hygiene and made us more socially responsible residents.


However, while some experts predicted that the pandemic would lead to the death of hugs and handshakes, this may not be the case.

“Each time there is a pandemic, there is a call to say: ‘Let’s have different forms of greeting, in order to reduce the risk of transmission,'” he said, noting that this happened during the 2003 SARS crisis.

“But somehow, humans being what we are, we have always gravitated back towards some form of human contact.”

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