Philippines among laggards at 79th out of 98 countries in pandemic response index

Bonz Magsambol

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Philippines among laggards at 79th out of 98 countries in pandemic response index
(UPDATED) In Southeast Asia, the Philippines trails its neighbors, with Vietnam and Thailand among the 10 best performers in the study

The Philippines lagged behind in containing the coronavirus pandemic –ranking 79th among 98 nations evaluated by the Australian think tank Lowy Institute.

The study released on Thursday, January 28, showed the Philippines scored 30.6 in the 6 indicators used by Lowy Institute in its COVID Performance Index which tracked the coronavirus numbers of almost 100 countries.

The indicators used were:

  • Confirmed cases
  • Confirmed deaths
  • Confirmed cases per million people
  • Confirmed deaths per million people
  • Confirmed cases as a proportion of tests
  • Tests per thousand people.

In total, 98 countries were evaluated in the 36 weeks that followed their hundredth confirmed case of COVID-19, using data available to January 9, 2021.

New Zealand topped the list with a score of 94.4, followed by Vietnam (90.8), and Taiwan (86.4).

Meanwhile, the United States ranked near the bottom of the table, at 94th, even worse than the Philippines.

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Aside from Vietnam, other Southeast Asian countries also performed well in the evaluation. These were Thailand (4th), Singapore (13th), Malaysia (16th), and Myanmar (24th).

Indonesia was the only country in Southeast Asia with worst numbers than the Philippines, placing at No. 85. Indonesia is the most populous country in the region.

The index didn’t include Brunei, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, and Laos, due to lack of publicly available data. China was also excluded from the study for the same reason.

The index showed countries in Asia-Pacific proved the most successful in containing the pandemic, while Europe and the United States were “quickly overwhelmed” by the rapid spread of COVID-19.

In October 2020, the Philippines was among the 20 nations with the highest number of COVID-19 infections. Based on the John Hopkins’ monitoring, the country now ranks 32nd in the world in terms of cases.

In a statement on Thursday, the Department of Heath (DOH) said that it welcomed “all research about COVID-19 and the opportunities to learn from good practices of other countries.”

However, it noted that the pandemic was “very dynamic, and the capture of proper context is crucial in assessing the performance of a country.” 

The DOH said that the methodology used in the study did “not capture the complex nature of pandemic response.”

“We can’t be comparing apples to oranges,” it said.“The indicators of performance used by the Philippines are multidimensional, with both strategic and operational indicators of health and economic performance and across the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Test-Treat strategies,” the DOH added.

Nearly a year after the Philippines detected its first case of COVID-19, the government is still struggling to contain the transmission of the virus.

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The more infectious United Kingdom (UK) variant of COVID-19 has already reached the country, with 17 cases detected. Experts have warned that the UK variant of COVID-19 might increase the coronavirus cases in the Philippines by up to 15-fold.

The pandemic has so far infected over 100 million people globally. In the Philippines, a total of 518,407 cases have been recorded as of January 27, with 10,481 deaths and 475,542 recoveries. – with a report from Reuters/

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.