The Philippines' COVID-19 Response Is Performing Poorly Compared to the Rest of the World

If this was a test where 60 is the passing mark, we would have failed.

The Philippines is lagging behind most of the world when it comes to its COVID-19 response, ranking 79th out of 98 countries included in Lowy Institute’s COVID Performance Index.

Lowy Institute’s recently released index analyzes the pandemic response of 98 countries based on the following data: confirmed cases, deaths, cases per million people, deaths per million people, cases as a proportion of tests, and tests per thousand people. A weighted score is then taken with a maximum score of 100.

The Philippines 30.6 on the index, putting it in the bottom quarter in terms of pandemic response. Indonesia was the only other Southeast Asian country to perform worse than the Philippines, placing 86th with a score of 24.7. Meanwhile, Thailand scored 84.2 while Vietnam scored 90.8. The two Southeast Asian neighbors are among the top 10 countries with the best pandemic response.

New Zealand topped the list with a score of 94.4, followed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Cyprus, Rwanda, Iceland, Australia, Latvia, and Sri Lanka—all of which scored higher than 76.0. In stark contrast, the worst-performing country in the world is Brazil, which scored a dismal average of 4.3. Mexico is the second worst with a score of 6.5, followed by Colombia, Iran, and the United States of America. The U.S.A., which continues to debate mask-wearing mandates, scored only 17.3 on the index and currently has the most number of cases and deaths of COVID-19 in the entire world.

With an average score of 58.2, Asia-Pacific as a whole is faring better than Europe, which is, in turn, performing better than the Middle East and Africa. The Americas is reportedly the worst performing region with an average score of 33.8.  

Photo by Lowy Institute.

"Although Asia–Pacific countries fared well as a whole against the coronavirus, country performance across the region varied significantly between high performers and persistent strugglers," the report said. "But significant underperformers, such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines emerged too, struggling to contain COVID-19 throughout much of 2020 with few signs of improvement.”

It’s easy to assume that richer countries handled the pandemic better than poorer countries, but the data proves otherwise, especially since the U.S.A. is among the worst-performing countries and Vietnam is among the best. The Lowy Institute claims that economic and political differences had less to do with pandemic response. Instead, countries with smaller populations, cohesive societies, and capable institutions dealt with the pandemic more effectively than their counterparts.

As of January, the Philippines has reported over 500,000 COVID-19 cases. The world has reported over 100 million, with more than two million fatalities.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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