The National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) is a purpose-built facility designed to strengthen Singapore’s capabilities in infectious disease prevention and management. Alongside TTSH, it has been the epicentre of Singapore’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic — providing clinical care and outbreak management, and leading in diagnostic testing, surveillance, and infectious disease research.


In January 2020, NCID responded swiftly to the COVID-19 outbreak with the formation of the National COVID-19 Research Workgroup (RWG). The Workgroup is chaired by Professor Leo Yee Sin, Executive Director, NCID, and advised by Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, Chief Health Scientist, MOH, and includes members from NCID, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), National University of Singapore (NUS), Duke-NUS Medical School, MOH, National Research Foundation, NUH, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National Medical Research Council (NMRC), DSO National Laboratories, Singapore Clinical Research Institute, and NHG. The Workgroup’s research efforts to understand COVID-19 transmission in Singapore have since contributed immensely to the nation’s success in managing and controlling the pandemic.

The RWG made significant research contributions to the battle against COVID-19. These included the rapid development and validation of diagnostic tools, a greater understanding of virus pathogenesis and transmission patterns, elucidation of biomarkers of infection, pathogenesis and disease severity, and investigation of COVID-19 clusters in Singapore. It has also broken new ground in the characterisation of environmental contamination with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, development and evaluation of potential therapeutic agents, and attained a greater understanding of the socio-behavioural aspects of the pandemic on healthcare workers and other segments of the community.


NCID participated in various multi-centre randomised controlled trials to investigate potential treatments. This included conducting clinical trials to determine the efficacy of remdesivir as a treatment for the disease, and participating in the United States National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT) that tested the efficacy of a combination of remdesivir with existing drugs - such as baricitinib, interferon-beta-1a, and dexamethasone which are used to treat other diseases - as a treatment for COVID-19. In October 2020, NCID took part in another NIH-led clinical trial, Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV-3), which investigated multiple monoclonal antibodies as therapeutic agents for COVID-19 treatment.

NCID, together with TTSH’s Department of Haematology, Health Sciences Authority (HSA), and Duke-NUS Medical School, started a national convalescent plasma programme for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in March 2020. Under the programme, patients who recovered from COVID-19 were invited to be plasma donors, and underwent stringent checks to ensure donated plasma was safe and carried sufficient quantities of COVID-19 antibodies. Blood plasma treatment is based on the principle that recovered patients have protective antibodies that may help to fight against infection. Preliminary reports indicated that convalescent plasma therapy may have a role in the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19, and could be considered when these patients were not eligible for other treatments.


NCID provided training to public and private organisations in adopting best practices for managing COVID-19. NCID collaborated with CCFs, Swab Isolation Facilities (SIFs), and private and community hospitals to train staff on PPE, N95 mask fitting, infection control measures, hand hygiene, and nasopharyngeal, nasal and throat swabbing. In addition, NCID advised on facility design and process flows to enhance infection control and reduce infection risk at CCFs, SIFs, and cruise ships.


NCID’s Training and Education Office (T&E) worked with community partners on public education programmes aimed at enhancing community preparedness against disease outbreaks. Also covered were the benefits of influenza and pneumococcal vaccination. In 2020, T&E engaged close to 2,700 members of the public through its outreach efforts.

“As we continue the battle against the virus and progress towards a state of endemic COVID-19, the road ahead may be long and winding but NCID’s mission remains unchanged — to protect the people of Singapore from infectious diseases. NCID will continue working with our partners in the healthcare sector, academic and research institutions, and the community to safeguard Singapore’s public health.” Professor Leo Yee Sin,
Executive Director, National Centre for Infectious Diseases