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Philippines still last among 53 in COVID-19 resiliency rankings

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Philippines still last among 53 in COVID-19 resiliency rankings
Passengers wearing face masks and shields to protect themselves against the COVID-19 coronavirus sit inside a tricycle taxi in Manila on September 7, 2021.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines still ranks last among the world’s 53 biggest economies included in the latest COVID-19 Resilience Ranking released by Bloomberg.

“Southeast Asian countries continue to rank lowest, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines in the bottom six for the third month,” read the report released Wednesday night.

“While the region’s outbreak may have peaked and vaccination has progressed, especially in Malaysia, many of these export-reliant economies are still reeling from Delta’s hit. That’s spurring these nations to chart clearer paths to reopening, though it’ll take time for them to catch up to Europe and the United States,” it added.

Bloomberg’s COVID-19 Resilience Ranking measures how countries effectively handle the pandemic with the least social and economic upheaval.

The scores are based on 12 data indicators, including virus containment, quality of health care, vaccination coverage, overall mortality, and progress toward restarting travel and easing border curbs.

The Philippines scored 40.5, slightly higher than the 40.2 it obtained last month, when it replaced Malaysia as the lowest ranked among the 53 economies covered by the list.

Among the indicators, the Philippines scored low in terms of vaccine coverage, lockdown severity, flight capacity and open travel routes for vaccinated individuals.

Following the Philippines are Vietnam with a score of 44, Thailand with 46.8, Malaysia with 48.9, Romania with 49.5, and Indonesia with 50.5.

Ireland still topped the list with a score of 75.1, followed by Spain and the United Arab Emirates with identical scores of 74.6, Denmark with 74.3, and Finland with 74.2.

Singapore, which ranked highest among Southeast Asian countries in the list, dropped 20 spots to 39 following record daily cases and deaths that resulted in some domestic curbs.

“The scores of the top-ranked places generally reflect a best-case scenario of high vaccination rates, relatively controlled case and death levels, flight capacity recovering to pre-pandemic levels, and few travel curbs on vaccinated people,” read the report.

“Parts of the Asia-Pacific that relied on eliminating Covid and keeping it out – meaning their overall mortality rates are vastly lower – score poorly on reopening,” it added.

‘Unfair, biased’

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) yesterday said Bloomberg’s report is unfair and biased.

?“We feel that the Bloomberg resilience data is practically unfair to our country,” said Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, DILG spokesman, when interviewed by ANC’s “Headstart.”

Malaya said the roster of countries in the study included the top 25 nations of the world and easily put a developing country like the Philippines at a disadvantage.

He questioned the criteria used by the study, which included factors such as universal health care that are present in mostly Western countries.

“We’re at a disadvantage based on the criteria because many of these countries are welfare states. We have a totally different system in our country,” Malaya said.

“It’s really a long-term resiliency assessment which I think is unfair to the Philippines if we are lumped together with the western countries and not all countries are assessed,” he added.

The DILG official said that while there is something to be learned from the resiliency survey, the government hopes that Bloomberg can take into account developments in the country in terms of the trend in decrease in cases and the ramping up of the national vaccination drive.

“I hope all of these developments are considered and utilized by Bloomberg when they make their next assessment,” he said.

Malaya added that both the national and local governments are ready for a possible easing of quarantine restrictions by next month, possibly even lowering the status in Metro Manila to Alert Level 2. –  Romina Cabrera

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