SDP proposes COVID plan: No blanket curbs, no tests on asymptomatic vaccinated

·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read
People take their antigen rapid test under supervision, at a Quick Test Centre during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su
People take their antigen rapid test under supervision, at a Quick Test Centre during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE — Do away with blanket closures and restrictions, stop testing asymptomatic vaccinated individuals outside of contact tracing, and publish regular reports on test positivity and all clusters.

These are among the Singapore Democratic Party's (SDP) proposed eight-point plan to exit the pandemic, as opposed to the "distinct lack of coherence and direction" of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) on COVID-19, said the opposition party on Tuesday (28 September).

The plan was drawn up by the SDP's healthcare panel, which includes SDP chair Dr Paul Tambyah, a well-known epidemiologist who is also president of the US-based International Society of Infectious Diseases.

In a statement, the SDP claimed that the "reactive nature" of the MTF’s approach in dealing with outbreaks has led to stop-start, on-again/off-again policies which have adversely impacted both employers and employees.

To combat this "lack of a clear strategy", the SDP proposed:

  • Stop testing asymptomatic vaccinated individuals outside of contact tracing. This will help ensure that resources are concentrated on those who need them most, such as the elderly and vulnerable who are actually infected.

  • Ensure that those who test positive, including pregnant women and children, report to the nearest Public Health Preparedness Clinic, who can then evaluate them and decide if they need to be hospitalised or monitored over the week. This strategy is similar to other infectious diseases such as urinary tract infections or food poisoning.  

  • Facilitate nursing homes to keep infected patients who are stable and do not need hospitalisation in their facilities, but segregate them from the rest of the residents. This will relieve the strain on hospitals and ensure that those who need hospital care are not deprived or delayed.

  • Set up a dedicated ambulance hotline for those who have tested positive or are identified as close contacts, so they can be brought to hospital if their pulse oximeter readings show evidence of low oxygen concentrations.

  • Publish regular reports on test positivity and all clusters, as in the recent decision to publish a map of emerging cases. This will help the public to seek medical attention if they develop symptoms after visiting those areas.

  • Do away with blanket closures and restrictions. Instead, implement targeted interventions such as shutting the physical building or facility where an outbreak occurs, instead of across the whole island where outbreaks have not occurred.

  • Intensify the molecular epidemiology (genetic fingerprinting) process. Every public hospital and referral lab must perform this for every positive case and the information should be fed into a database modelled on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) GISAID and the information therein made publicly available. This will make the identification of large clusters reliable.

  • Conduct rapid adaptive design randomised clinical trials on all WHO-approved vaccines so they can be brought in for trials and studied as boosters or primary doses. These vaccines should be commissioned and funded rapidly. 

The final proposal, said SDP, should also apply to other preventative agents, which have shown promise in earlier randomised trials such as povidone iodine or ivermectin. "This will settle once and for all in a clear scientific manner many of the questions swirling around social media on alternatives to the current vaccination strategies."

"Collectively, these measures will provide society with a more reliable and predictable way of handling the pandemic. They will build confidence as we go forward in dealing with a virus that is here to stay," added the SDP.

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