Highly-vaccinated Singapore is battling a record wave of COVID-19 infections just as the city plans to re-open to the world. But Singapore’s 80% vaccination rate has kept severe cases and deaths down, potentially proving that living with the virus—versus trying to eradicate it—is the surest path out of the pandemic.

Singapore’s saving grace is its high vaccination coverage.

Singapore has now fully vaccinated over 80% of its population, one of the highest rates in the world. China’s fully vaccinated rate is 73%, while the European Union and U.S. have fully vaccinated 65% and 55% of their populations, respectively, according to Bloomberg.

Singapore’s high caseload was, in part, baked into its plan to ‘live with COVID’ after 18 months of trying to every case, and ministers say that the city still plans on dropping quarantine requirements and re-opening to the world in coming weeks, even as the government reimposes some short-term social distancing measures.

Experts say that Singapore’s climbing cases, more than half of which are in vaccinated individuals, may signal that COVID-19 is becoming an endemic disease in the city-state, meaning COVID-19 circulates in a population like its four coronaviruses cousins but doesn’t upend lives due to widespread immunity. As long as deaths remain low, Singapore can set an example for how other countries, especially those that have maintained zero tolerance for COVID-19, can emerge from the pandemic.

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