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PH again sinks to bottom of pandemic resilience rankings

The Philippines once again ranked the worst in COVID-19 resilience, landing last among 53 countries being evaluated by the media and data company Bloomberg for their pandemic response.

BOARDING PASS A staff of the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic ensures that only passengers who present valid vaccination and identification cards are allowed to board buses at Edsa Bus Carousel station on Main Avenue, Quezon City, as the government implements the “no vaccination, no ride” policy in Metro Manila’s public transportation. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Philippines once again ranked the worst in COVID-19 resilience, landing last among 53 countries being evaluated by the media and data company Bloomberg for their pandemic response.

With the score of 48.3, the Philippines clinched the bottom slot for the third time in the last five months, according to Bloomberg’s COVID-19 Resilience Ranking for January. “Difficulties administering vaccines in remote areas continue to be a vulnerability as the country sees an Omicron surge worse than other Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand,” Bloomberg said in its latest report, summing up how the Philippines landed on the bottom spot.

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The country was in the 50th place in December, with a score of 52.

Bloomberg said developing nations including the Philippines were being hampered by “logistical issues” in administering COVID-19 vaccines.

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“Still, a lot of the developing world is behind on vaccination. After failing to procure enough supply for much of 2021, shots are now available, but governments from the Philippines to Nigeria are struggling to administer them due to logistical issues,” it said.

Poor health infrastructure, lack of trained staff and difficulties accessing rural populations were cited in the Bloomberg report as the reasons for the slow rollout of vaccines in remote places.

Economic performance

In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said Bloomberg should examine the Philippines’ economic performance.

“That is the best indicator for the basis of resilience in any country. The bottom line you would look at is the economic growth of any country,” Nograles said at a press briefing on Friday.

He said the Philippine economy grew 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021 and 5.6 percent overall last year.

In 2022, the economy is forecast to grow between 7 percent and 9 percent, Nograles said.

“So, let the numbers speak for themselves. That is the clearest indication of the resilience of the Philippines amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

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Monthly snapshot

The COVID-19 Resilience Ranking is a monthly snapshot of where the coronavirus is being handled most effectively, with the least social and economic upheaval.

Among the indicators used to rank the countries are their levels of success in virus containment, quality of health care, vaccination coverage, overall mortality and progress toward restarting travel.

The Bloomberg report for January, titled “The Best and Worst Places to Be as We Learn to Live with COVID,” stated that the Omicron variant had ushered in a new era for pandemic management.

“Rather than shifting their strategies, nations are settling into more long-term positions in approaching the virus,” Bloomberg said, noting that such a strategy was employed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is first in the ranking this month.

“Its success is based on an approach it’s been following for months: a combination of almost full vaccination coupled with consistent openness to travel, alongside what has been a smaller Omicron outbreak compared elsewhere. Ruling out a return to full lockdown, the UAE economy is poised for strong economic growth this year, helped by the rebound in oil prices,” Bloomberg said.

Best-case scenario

In its latest report, Bloomberg also examined the countries’ progress in vaccination, the severity of lockdowns and restrictions in place, as well as the metrics tracking travel, to determine which of the 53 economies were reopening.

“They form a gauge that assesses how far each place is from pre-COVID levels of normalcy,” Bloomberg said.

It said the reopening of an economy was increasingly pivotal in pandemic management.

Bloomberg also said the scores of the top-ranked places generally reflected a best-case scenario of high vaccination rates, relatively controlled death levels, flight capacity recovering to prepandemic levels, and few travel curbs on vaccinated people.

The COVID Resilience Ranking “provides a snapshot of how the pandemic is playing out in 53 major economies right now. By layering in metrics on reopening and the revival of global travel from mid-2021, we also give a window into how economies are moving beyond the pandemic,” it said.

Bloomberg pointed out that the ranking was not a final verdict.“[I]t could never be, given the imperfections in virus and vaccine data and the fast pace of this crisis. Circumstance and pure luck also play a role, but are hard to quantify,” it said, adding: “With more and more countries determined to live with the virus and exit the crisis conditions that have defined much of public life since early 2020, the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel may be growing stronger.”

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