Project Wolbachia-Singapore To Be Expanded To Five Additional Sites –

Project Wolbachia-Singapore To Be Expanded To Five Additional Sites

130,000 more households will receive male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquito releases from first quarter of 2024, bringing total coverage to 35 per cent of all Singapore households

Singapore, 21 November 2023 – Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary of Sustainability and the Environment, announced at the International Vector-borne Diseases Conference 2023 that the National Environment Agency (NEA) will be expanding Project Wolbachia-Singapore to five additional sites in the first quarter of 2024. This will increase Wolbachia coverage from 350,000 to 480,000 households – an increase from 26 per cent to 35 per cent of all households in Singapore.

Five new sites to receive male Wolbachia-Aedes releases from first quarter of 2024

2          Following positive results from ongoing field studies, NEA will expand releases
of male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (Wolbachia-Aedes) mosquitoes to five residential sites in the south of Singapore, comprising both HDB and landed estates. The five locations are Bukit Merah – Telok Blangah, Clementi – West Coast, Commonwealth, Holland, Marine Parade – Mountbatten (see Annex A for Location Maps of Expansion Sites).

3          Releases in these new sites will commence in the first quarter of 2024. These sites were selected based on multiple considerations, including historical dengue risk, Aedes aegypti mosquito population, and NEA’s capacity for producing and releasing male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes.

Promising results in existing study sites sustained 

4          Dengue mosquito populations in the existing study sites of Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Tampines and Yishun have generally fallen by more than 90 per cent. In the last 4 years (2019 to 2022), residents living in areas with at least one year of releases were up to 77 per cent less likely to be infected with dengue.

5          Preliminary data from the eight study sites (under the multi-site field study) launched in June 2022 also suggested reductions of up to 80 per cent in dengue mosquito population. NEA continues to collect data from these sites to obtain more definitive results on efficacy of dengue risk reduction.

6          “The Wolbachia technology has significantly reduced the chance of people getting infected with the dengue virus. As a sizeable portion of cases in study sites was isolated and not linked to clusters, the cases could have acquired dengue elsewhere rather than within the release site. Low-level transmission is also a possibility. As we continue to collect more data, we will gain more insights to enhance our proficiency in using the novel vector control tool,” said Associate Professor Ng Lee Ching, Group Director, Environmental Health Institute, NEA.    

7          “The results of the Singapore Wolbachia project in the past year show exciting potential for providing sustainable control of dengue using a novel cost-effective mosquito control tool, especially when used in conjunction with other tools, including community’s sustained efforts in removing stagnant water” said Professor Duane Gubler, Dengue Expert Advisory Panel Chairman and Emeritus Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore.

8          Collectively, all the field studies will enable NEA to understand the environmental factors that influence efficacy, improve deployment strategy, and enhance cost-effectiveness. As Wolbachia technology is still nascent, research and development is needed to further automate and improve processes for future larger-scale implementation.

Engaging the industry to increase supply of Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes

9           As part of a long-term strategy to increase capacity and resilience in Wolbachia operations, NEA plans to develop an additional source of supply of the Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes, on top of the current capacity provided by NEA and Verily Life Sciences. NEA will engage the industry on the user and technical requirements for the additional capacity.  

Community action to prevent mosquito breeding is most critical

10        While the results have been promising so far, Wolbachia technology is not a silver bullet. The presence of the highly efficient vector – Aedes mosquitoes, ongoing circulation of multiple dengue virus serotypes, and low population immunity will continue to challenge dengue control efforts. Collective action of stakeholders and residents in preventing mosquito breeding and protecting ourselves and loved ones from mosquito bites must continue.  

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Annex A

Five new sites to receive male Wolbachia-Aedes releases from first quarter of 2024

Location Maps of Expansion Sites

1.     Bukit Merah – Telok Blangah

Bukit Merah – Telok Blangah

2.     Clementi – West Coast
Clementi – West Coast

3.     Commonwealth

4.     Holland

5.     Marine Parade – Mountbatten
Marine Parade - Mountbatten

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