Since the nightmare that is the pandemic started more than a year and a half ago, everyone has been waiting for the day things return to normal. With the help of vaccine rollouts coupled with tight protocols, it looks like some countries have successfully returned to the peaceful times pre-pandemic, or at least a semblance of it. But other countries still have it rough with a continued increase in cases caused by new variants plunging them deeper into the terrors of the coronavirus.
Just last week, Bloomberg released their “COVID Resilience Ranking” that included 53 countries. They are ranked based on factors such as percentage of the population vaccinated, lockdown severity, and flight capacity. How was the Philippines ranked? Which country is the best place to be in right now? Read on to find out!
The 8 Countries with the Best Pandemic Responses
We’re all itching to travel, even locally. In the Philippines, the freedom to go anywhere and enjoy a ~real~ vacation is still a hazy dream. But for these 8 countries with the best pandemic responses, the new normal is within their grasp.
8. Mainland China
Despite having some of the earliest cases of the coronavirus, China has managed to contain it within their borders. According to data by Reuters, Mainland China has managed to administer over 1.2 billion COVID vaccines to date, “enough to have vaccinated about 43.8% of the country’s population.” They have recorded 12 latest COVID cases as of July 1, 2021, a little more than the 9 cases recorded the day before, and zero deaths. None of the cases are local transmissions.
How did they manage to contain the 0utbreak? Chinese citizens are continuously encouraged to get vaccinated. Local pandemic command control centers have also put a tight rein on land and even air transportation.
Australia is seeing an average of 26 COVID cases a day with a total of 30,642 since the pandemic began. However, with the surge of the Delta coronavirus variant, they’ve seen a rise to more than 200 cases daily. Authorities have scrambled to put seven of its capital cities under lockdown including Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, and Perth. Still, with the swift response to positive cases and with around 14.8% of their population vaccinated, Australia is still one of the best places to be post-pandemic.
Those planning on traveling to Australia anytime soon can check out the guidelines from the Australian Embassy to the Philippines here.
At first glance, Spain has huge COVID numbers with a total case of 3.8 million since the start of the pandemic. They’re also currently experiencing an outbreak of more than 1,000 cases believed to be caused by “end-of-year trips by celebrating school students.” But balance it off with over 40.5 million vaccines administered — which means 43.1% of the population has been vaccinated — and authorities doubling down on the vaccination program, the country is doing well.
As of June 24, Spain has lifted its travel ban for some countries to visit without needing to quarantine or show a negative test.
France is currently preparing for the fourth wave of the coronavirus to hit the country as the Delta variant wreaks havoc globally and is responsible for 20% of their new cases. But they are still calm, cool, and collected, especially since France’s vaccination program has been well underway for the past half-year. About 53 million doses of the COVID vaccine has been administered or an estimated 39.6% of the country’s population.
Since June 9, France has been accepting international visitors and permitted indoor dining. You will have to show proof of vaccination to visit, otherwise, you will be required to do a COVID test.
Israel has seen a spike in cases no thanks to the Delta coronavirus variant. They’ve managed to keep their cases down to two digits early in 2021 and now they’re hitting an average of 300 cases per day. But even so, the country’s vaccination programs are impressive. Authorities have administered over 10.7 million doses, which’s 59.4% of the country’s population. They are now focusing on vaccinating teens aged 12-15 years old.
Switzerland’s COVID cases have been on a decline since the all-time high of 20,000+ cases they experienced last November 2020. Since then, average daily infections have reached around 100. Almost half of the Swiss population have received the jab, that’s more than 7.2 million doses. Authorities are slowly opening up the country, even allowing gatherings of up to 10,000 provided that attendees are vaccinated or have tested negative to the virus. And perhaps the most impressive part of all, the Swiss now have the option to not wear masks outdoors starting June 26, 2021.
2. New Zealand
We’ve all heard how New Zealand has resumed concerts and gatherings mask-free — they’re leading the pack of countries in their post-pandemic era. New Zealand has recorded an average of 2 new cases daily, even with only 11.7% of their population inoculated. They’ve also only had 2,742 cases since the beginning of the pandemic with 26 deaths. The low numbers are largely thanks to the government’s speed in implementing strict health protocol measures, lockdowns, and border closures through their four-level alert system. As for the Delta variant, New Zealand is more than equipped to dodge that bullet too.
1. United States
The United States currently has the largest number of total COVID cases in the world at 34.5 million with 620,249 deaths. Despite this, the country has vaccinated around 49.5% of its population with over 325 million doses. Their quick vaccine rollout ranks them as the number 1 best place to be when the world finally opens. More and more countries are also opening their borders for vaccinated Americans as flights in and out of the United States are slowly nearing full recovery. However, with the rise of the Delta variant, it looks like the decline in the average daily positive cases might arise in the next few months.
The 8 Countries with the Worst Pandemic Responses
Now that we’ve gone through the countries you wish you lived in right now, here’s what it looks like on the other end of the spectrum.
NOTE: It’s important to note that these rankings aren’t permanent. In the Bloomberg report, the researchers wrote:
“The Covid Resilience Ranking captures a snapshot in time. There’s no guarantee that the turnarounds pulled off by the U.S. and Europe will hold as outbreaks in the developing world continue to throw up fearsome mutations.”
Only 3% of Bangladesh’s population of 170 million has gotten two doses of the vaccine. After India stopped exporting AstraZeneca in response to their own domestic infections, Bangladesh saw a record spike of cases this week of the highly contagious Delta variant.
This spike has prompted the government to tighten restrictions, forbidding anyone to go out except in case of an emergency. Army troops joined law-enforcement agencies to enforce the lockdown.
Pakistan’s third wave of the virus peaked in April, when cases were rising to almost 6,000 daily. On April 27, the country recorded a record daily death toll of 201 cases.
Since then, the active cases have been dropping and flight restrictions from several countries have been dropped, but Pakistani Planning Minister Asad Umar warned citizens that according to data, a fourth wave could hit in July.
“In the absence of strong [standard operating procedure] enforcement and continued strong vaccination program, the fourth wave could emerge in Pakistan in July,” he said.
Much of South America is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19, but Colombia doesn’t just have the pandemic to contend with, but also social upheaval and protests against economic equality. Over 25,000 cases are reported each day, and more young people are dying (most elderly people have been vaccinated and protests are usually attended by younger people). Mass marches have since been paused in response to the surge.
This past week, Indonesia has logged daily record highs for new cases, reporting 21,807 more yesterday, as well as 467 more deaths. Experts say that the Delta variant is behind the rapid infections that are now overwhelming hospitals and oxygen supplies in Jakarta and other parts of the country.
Less than 5% of the country’s adult population has been fully vaccinated. Indonesia has recorded 2,178,272 cases in total, making it second to only India in Asia.
In April and May, a second wave of the virus overwhelmed health services in India, killing hundreds of thousands. Health officials say that 10 million doses need to be administered per day to protect the country’s population, but since May, vaccinations have averaged fewer than 3 million doses a day.
Last week, India identified a new coronavirus variant of concern. Identified locally as “Delta plus”, this variant was has been detected in nearly two dozen cases. According to authorities, this new variant shows increased transmissibility.
Today, India recorded 48,786 new cases and 1,005 new deaths. In total, the country has recorded 30,411,634 cases and 399,475 deaths.
Malaysia saw a record daily rise in cases on May 29, logging 9,020 new cases. It had its highest daily death toll of 126 of June 2.
In response, the country has been lockdown until June 1, and though the lockdown was set to end last Monday, it has been extended. Officials have said that lockdown measures would not be eased until daily cases fell below 4,000. Yesterday, Malaysia logged 6,276 new cases. It has recorded a total of 751,979 cases and 5,170 deaths.
The Malaysian government is also considering making vaccinations mandatory to reach its target of inoculating 80% of the population. It might also take legal action against anti-vaxxers.
In April, the Philippines’ daily case count soared to a record 11,405. Since then, the new cases have been declining, and recently, the Department of Health has declared the Philippines as a low-risk area. In spite of this, the country ranked the second-lowest in Bloomberg’s study, largely because of its low vaccination rate. Only 3.2% of the Philippine population has been fully vaccinated, and the entire country is still under some form of lockdown.
In response, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has called the Bloomberg study “unfair.”
“Why? Because the rich countries have already secured 80 percent of the global supply of vaccines and that leaves us among the middle-income countries scrambling and almost begging for vaccines,” he said.
Early on in the pandemic, Argentina was praised for its low case numbers thanks to strong restrictions and the general public’s cooperation. But the more aggressive Brazilian variant has been spreading rapidly across South America. Yesterday, Argentina recorded 22,673 new cases and 636 deaths. In total, the country has logged 4,470,374 cases and 94,304 deaths.
21.7% of the population has been vaccinated — much higher than the Philippines — but Argentina ranked the lowest in Bloomberg’s study because of its low flight capacity. Recently, the Argentinean government decided to reduce the number of international arrivals to just 600 a day in hopes of keeping out the Delta variant.