Vaccines are a national priority but not ‘silver bullets’ for reopening, Singapore minister says

SINGAPORE — Singapore needs a “suite of measures” beyond Covid vaccinations in order to open up its economy and allow international travel, said S Iswaran, the country’s minister for communications and information.

Some of those measures may include testing for Covid-19, he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday, as part of World Economic Forum Global Technology Governance Summit.  

“The way we see it, this has to be a suite of measures. Vaccinations are essential but they are not silver bullets,” he said. “We need that to be complemented by a strong, robust testing regime, as well as effective safe management measures.”

He said such solutions will be important going forward, “whether it is opening up the economy further” or enabling cross-border activity or travels, said Iswaran.

People wearing protective masks prepare entering a mall at Singapore’s shopping district Orchard Road.

Suhaimi Abdullah | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The minister said vaccines are a “national priority” and will help Singapore get back to pre-Covid levels of economic activity, but that process would involve small steps over time, rather than a big and sudden change.

“It is going to be more an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one,” he said.

That’s likely to be the case around the world, he added. “The way we will go forward … is going to be measured, calibrated steps in terms of facilitating cross border flows of people.”

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The way we look at it is that, at the end of the day, you need an effective vaccination program, and then we need to develop mutual recognition of those vaccination programs.

S Iswaran

Singapore Minister for Communications and Information

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