PM Lee: ‘Don’t have to take my word on trust in govt, check out Lancet.’ So we did.


While Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that trust in government and society greatly influence health outcomes, he also cited a peer-reviewed academic study, published in British medical journal The Lancet, that confirms it.

He was speaking at the SGH Lecture and Formal Dinner on Apr 24, 2022 at Shangri-La Singapore.

“You do not have to take my word for it. There is now a peer-reviewed academic study, published in The Lancet no less, which confirms this. The study found that higher levels of trust in the government and among the population were associated with greater compliance with Covid-related restrictions and higher vaccination rates,” he said.

What does The Lancet say? went online and found a study.

Titled “Pandemic preparedness and Covid-19: an exploratory analysis of infection and fatality rates, and contextual factors associated with preparedness in 177 countries, from Jan 1, 2020, to Sept 30, 2021”, this study was published online on Feb 1, 2022.

In its summary, the study said: “Understanding the conditions associated with this cross-country variation is essential to guiding investment in more effective preparedness and response for future pandemics.”

It found that:

– Measures of trust in the government and interpersonal trust, as well as less government corruption, had larger, statistically significant associations with lower standardised infection rates.

– High levels of government and interpersonal trust, as well as less government corruption, were also associated with higher Covid-19 vaccine coverage among middle-income and high-income countries where vaccine availability was more widespread, and lower corruption was associated with greater reductions in mobility.

– Between Jan 1, 2020, and Sept 30, 2021, countries such as Iceland and Singapore were largely successful in preventing infection and death.

As of Apr 24, 96 per cent of Singapore’s eligible population are fully vaccinated, one of the highest in the world. According to Statista, Singapore’s Covid-19 death rate is at 0.11, one of the lowest in the world.

What did PM Lee say?

PM Lee had earlier said in his speech that trust has probably been the most critical factor in Singapore’s pandemic response and that Singapore has built up a high degree of trust between Singaporeans and the government over the years, which enabled Singaporeans to come together during the pandemic.

“We must continue to nurture this trust during normal times. Always maintain high standards of competency, commitment and transparency in our healthcare system. Instil this trust in our people, so that in the next crisis we can again draw upon the same deep reservoir of trust to see us through,” he said.

It wasn’t the first time he mentioned about this deep reservoir of trust.

Last November, during the Party Convention, PM Lee said that Singapore is and must always be a high-trust society and to achieve this, we must get our politics right.

In Feb this year, he delivered a speech on how trust is important for Singapore’s system to function properly in Parliament, with the word “trust” appearing more than 30 times in his 45-minute speech.

Earlier in April, PM Lee said during the Administrative Service Appointment and Promotion Ceremony that Singaporeans trust that the Government has the best interests of Singapore and this trust has been key to Singapore’s handling of the pandemic.

Cover photo credit: PM Lee Facebook page and The Lancet YouTube page.