Bloomberg has just announced a list of the best and worst places to be in the coronavirus era with Vietnam being placed in 10th overall.
The announcement was made by Bloomberg after the country has only recorded 1,347 COVID-19 cases, along with going 120 consecutive days with no new locally transmitted infections.
As Covid-19 has spread around the world, it’s challenged preconceptions about which places would best tackle the worst public health crisis in a generation.
Advanced economies like the U.S. and U.K., ranked by various pre-2020 measures as being the most prepared for a pandemic, have been repeatedly overwhelmed by infections and face a return to costly lockdowns. Meanwhile, other countries—even developing nations—have defied expectations, some all but eliminating the pathogen within their borders.
Bloomberg crunched the numbers to determine the best places to be in the coronavirus era: where has the virus been handled most effectively with the least amount of disruption to business and society?
Covid Resilience Ranking
The Covid Resilience Ranking scores economies of more than $200 billion on 10 key metrics: from growth in virus cases to the overall mortality rate, testing capabilities and the vaccine supply agreements places have forged. The capacity of the local health-care system, the impact of virus-related restrictions like lockdowns on the economy, and citizens’ freedom of movement are also taken into account.
The result is an overall score that’s a snapshot of how the pandemic is playing out in these 53 places right now. By ranking their access to a coronavirus vaccine, we also provide a window into how these economies’ fortunes may shift in the future. It’s not a final verdict, nor could it ever be with imperfections in virus data and the fast pace of this crisis, which has seen subsequent waves confound places that handled things well the first time around. Circumstance and pure luck also play a role, but are hard to quantify.
The Ranking will change as countries switch up their strategies, the weather shifts and the race intensifies for a viable inoculation. Still, the gap that has opened up between those economies at the top and those at the bottom is likely to endure, with potentially lasting consequences in the post-Covid world.
The Magic Formula?
The under-performance of some of the world’s most prominent democracies including the U.S., U.K. and India contrasted with the success of authoritarian countries like China and Vietnam has raised questions over whether democratic societies are cut out for tackling pandemics.
Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking tells a different story: eight of the top 10 are democracies. Success in containing Covid-19 with the least disruption appears to rely less on being able to order people into submission, but on governments engendering a high degree of trust and societal compliance.
Outliers and Surprises
Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking exposes some uncomfortable truths for nations once considered the most advanced in the world. As of Nov. 23, major European countries like the U.K. and France rank in the bottom half of the list.
Connectedness has emerged as a curse in the Covid era, with global travel hubs and world cities like London, New York and Paris becoming epicenters where infections were first seeded by travelers from elsewhere. Places like Thailand and Singapore that count on travel and tourism have seen greater blows to their economies.
In contrast, developing countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have benefited from their relative remoteness. Their populations are also much younger on average, which has helped hold down their overall mortality rates. Limited testing and poor-quality data obscures the picture in these places, though under-reporting of cases and deaths is occuring everywhere.
Only five economies on the Ranking are expected to grow in 2020
Western Europe is now in the throes of a ferocious wave that’s forced governments to impose new lockdowns. The containment achieved in the spring was undone by the easing of restrictions, allowing the virus to be seeded again by summer vacationers.
Belgium has the worst overall mortality rate of the 53 economies after the virus ripped through aged-care homes. This position is a product of Belgium’s decision to record all nursing home deaths at the height of the first outbreak as Covid-19-related, even without an official diagnosis through testing.
Winter, vaccines, virus mutation: the outlook for the pandemic remains uncertain into 2021 and beyond. Still, having endured a year of fighting Covid-19, governments and populations now have a better understanding of the pathogen, how best to curb its spread and mitigate the damage it inflicts.
As the data shifts over the coming months, Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking will change too—we’ll update the picture as it evolves.
By Rachel Chang, Jinshan Hong and Kevin Varley @ Bloomberg, with assistance by: Scott Johnson, Jason Gale, Lisa Du, Dong Lyu, Ailing Tan, Tom Orlik, Steve Man, Enda Curran and Jeff Sutherland