Singapore turns to disco to keep Covid vaccine rollout on track

After vaccinating a fifth of its population, Singapore is deploying the powers of informative disco to keep up its inoculation campaign.

The city state was recently crowned the best place to be in the pandemic, and has managed to keep daily case numbers below 50 for months. But its latest public health video – an infectious pop song starring comedian Gurmit Singh as his much-loved character Phua Chu Kang, an eccentric contractor – warns the public not to be complacent.

“Low cases isn’t no cases,” he cries, after marching through a laboratory and vaccination centre in his trademark yellow boots, where he raps surprisingly detailed medical advice. “Singapore, don’t wait and see. Better get your shot Steady Pom Pi Pi [stay calm]”.

Singapore’s inoculation campaign has run smoothly in recent months, with no disruptions to its supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna doses. Health experts say it is likely that vaccine hesitancy will become a greater problem once a significant proportion of the population has been reached.

The video seeks to dispel concerns that vaccines might not be safe for people with certain health conditions, or for older people.

Prof Dale Fisher, a senior consultant in infectious diseases at Singapore’s National University Hospital, said: “In some countries people will be vocal and march the streets in protest. In Singapore, as this video alludes to, a lot of people are just saying I’d like to wait – I’ll just wait a while.”

At the moment, healthcare and frontline workers, as well as people aged 45 and above are eligible for the vaccine.

So far, the video has been praised online as lovable cringe and surprisingly informative, while some international viewers have urged their own governments to produce similar tracks. Others have expressed concern the video may be played repeatedly by the Singapore government until everyone is vaccinated.

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