PH ranks last in COVID-19 resilience ranking

VAX ROLLOUT. Vaccine recipients listen to a medical worker’s briefing before they receive Covid-19 jabs for the second dose of Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines at the Ugnayang La Salle in De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, Cavite on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. At least 1,336 from different priority groups are scheduled for inoculation. | PNA photo by Gil Calinga

THE Philippines is the worst place to be during the pandemic, according to a study that measures economies’ resilience to COVID-19.

In Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking released Tuesday, September 28, the Philippines placed last among 53 countries with a dismal score of 40.2.

It is one rank lower than its 52nd position in the previous report released in June 2021.

“The Philippines faces a perfect storm in that it’s grappling with the more ferocious Delta variant at the same time as it works with an inadequate testing regime and sees disruptions to its economy and people’s livelihoods as the pandemic continues to rage,” said Bloomberg.

The country scored low in all of Bloomberg’s four metrics related to reopening: vaccination coverage rate (20.1%), lockdown severity (75), flight capacity (-73.9%), and vaccinated travel routes (139).

The country also had the second-worst positive test rate at 27%, just behind Thailand’s.

“The metric indicates the government is only testing the sickest patients for Covid and that there’s likely high levels of undetected infection in the community,” Bloomberg noted.

Other Southeast Asian nations joined the Philippines at the bottom of the list: Indonesia (49th), Thailand (50th), Malaysia (51st) and Vietnam (52nd).

“Southeast Asian economies continue to populate the Ranking’s bottom rungs in September, with Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines the last five. While the region’s outbreak may have peaked, their export-reliant economies are still struggling from the hit,” said Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, European countries topped the ranking with Ireland receiving a score of 79.4. This is followed by Spain (78.2), Netherlands (76.4), Finland (76.1), and Denmark (75.3), to complete the top five.

‘Not surprising’

In response to the ranking, Malacañang said it was “not surprised.”

“We take note of Bloomberg’s latest COVID-19 Resilience Ranking report, which is based on indicators such as quality of healthcare, vaccination coverage, severity of lockdowns and restrictions, progress on restarting travel and easing border curbs, among others,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Wednesday, September 29.

“We are not surprised that the Philippines, together with other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are at the bottom of the list while countries which topped the list are developed countries such as Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, Finland and Denmark,” he added.

Quoting President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent speech before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Roque said vaccines against COVID-19 are vital in the fight against the raging virus.

“Vaccines are key towards defeating COVID-19. Unfortunately, as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte articulated in the United Nations, ‘rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines, while poor nations wait for trickles,’” the spokesman said.

“The Philippines is a classic case in point, where inoculation is highly dependent on the availability and stability of vaccine supplies,” he added.

On Sept. 22. Duterte stressed that a “man-made drought of vaccines” is ravaging poor countries.

“The picture is bleak. There is a man-made drought of vaccines ravaging poor countries,” he said in his address at the 76th UNGA’s special session.

He also pointed out that rich countries are now discussing booster shots, while poor countries are still struggling to secure vaccines to fully vaccinate their citizens.

“Rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines, while poor nations wait for trickles. They now talk of booster shots, while developing countries consider half-doses just to get by,” said Duterte.

“This is shocking beyond belief and must be condemned for what it is — a selfish act that can neither be justified rationally nor morally,” he added.

Echoing Duterte’s sentiment, Roque maintained that the Philippines’ stance to have universal access to COVID-19 vaccines remains unchanged.

“Having said this, the Philippines, in many numerous occasions, has advanced its position on the universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, for the plain fact that the pandemic will not end unless the coronavirus is defeated everywhere through vaccination,” he said.

“In addition, this resilience ranking is in line with the notion of total health, which we personally advocated, where the re-opening of more industries and businesses allowing more people to return to their livelihood must be balanced with improving the country’s health care system capacity,” he added.

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