By Aradhana Aravindan and Chen Lin
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Three-quarters of COVID-19 infections in Singapore in the past four weeks were among people vaccinated, government data shows, as rapid acceleration of vaccinations in the city-state leaves fewer people unvaccinated .
Singapore has already vaccinated nearly 75% of its 5.7 million people, the second in the world after the United Arab Emirates, according to a Reuters tracker, and half of its population is fully vaccinated.
It reported 1,096 locally transmitted cases in the past 28 days, of which 484, or 44%, were fully vaccinated people, while 30% were partially vaccinated and the remaining 25% were unvaccinated.
There were only seven severe cases requiring oxygen support and six of them were unvaccinated and one was partially vaccinated, the health ministry said.
“There is continuing evidence that vaccination helps prevent serious illness when a person is infected,” the ministry said, adding that all fully vaccinated and infected people had no symptoms or mild symptoms.
Experts said infections reported by people vaccinated do not mean vaccines are ineffective.
âAs more and more people are vaccinated in Singapore, we will see more infections occurring among those vaccinated,â Teo Yik Ying, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore ( NUS).
“It is important to always compare this to the proportion of people who remain unvaccinated … Suppose Singapore reaches a rate of 100% fully vaccinated … then all infections will come from those who are vaccinated and none from the unvaccinated.”
The data also showed that infections in the last 14 days in vaccinated people over 61 years of age were around 88%, higher than the younger age group.
Linfa Wang, a professor at Duke-NUS Medical School, said older people have weaker immune responses when vaccinated.
In Israel, which also has a high vaccination rate, about half of the 46 patients hospitalized in early July in serious condition have been vaccinated, and the majority were from groups at risk, according to health officials.
It was not immediately clear whether the data reflected reduced protection offered by vaccines against the more contagious Delta variant, which has been the most common version of the virus in Singapore in recent months.
Singapore uses Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccine for its national immunization program.
It recorded 162 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Thursday, near an 11-month high from the start of this week. The increase in cases has prompted authorities to tighten restrictions on social gatherings, as they push to increase vaccination rates, especially among the elderly.
(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; editing by Miyoung Kim and Michael Perry)