Singapore’s Education Minister Lawrence Wong speculated that it may take four to five years for the coronavirus pandemic to end, Channel News Asia reported.

“At some point in time the pandemic will pass, but it may take four to five years before we finally see the end of the pandemic and the start of a post-Covid normal. What will this new post-Covid world look like? No one can tell,” Wong said while speaking at the Singapore Perspectives 2021 conference hosted by Singapore’s Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) on Monday.

He said that a great deal of uncertainty looms over the coronavirus pandemic and how it will shape society.

He added that following Covid-19, protocols including mask-wearing and social-distancing, will continue for this year and “maybe a good part of next year”.

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“Beyond that, the availability of Covid-19 vaccinations will progressively restart global travel, but getting the world vaccinated won’t be quick or easy,” he said during the conference.

The Singapore government has planned to inoculate everyone in the country by the third quarter of 2021. However, Wong said that there could be some hurdles along the way.

He also believes that the current vaccine in use may not be much effective against the mutated strain of the virus and might need some modification.

“In the positive scenario, this means the vaccine becomes a bit like an annual flu jab ... or perhaps we develop a vaccine that works for all strains. But in the worst case, we end up always a step behind an evolving virus, and you will not be able to catch up in time,” he said.

“So, there are still tremendous uncertainties ahead of us. And the bottom line is that we live in a shared world and no one is safe until everyone is safe,” he further added.

Wong said that the post-pandemic future will be like a software update or a reboot for Singaporeans.

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“We must reset our social compact to emerge as a fairer and more equal society. The pandemic may be indiscriminate about who it infects but its impact is anything but equal. It has, in fact, widened the gulf between the haves and the have-nots,” he said.

“The impact of the pandemic has created an added impetus to strengthen our social support system. There will be a permanent shift towards further strengthening of our social safety nets in Singapore to protect the disadvantaged and vulnerable,” he said, adding that it will have to be done in a “sustainable manner over the long term”.

According to the worldometer dashboard, Singapore has reported 59,366 cases of the virus so far, with 29 deaths, and over 59,000 recoveries from the infection.