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Philippines Falls Further in Ranking of Worst Places to Be In A Pandemic

Variants are outpacing vaccinations.
IMAGE JEROME ASCANO
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Surging infections caused by COVID variants are outpacing the Philippines' vaccine rollout, causing a "notable" drop in the country's pandemic resilience ranking compiled by Bloomberg.

The Philippines, which crossed the one million cases milestone last April 26, dropped to 45th place from 35th in March. The Bloomberg COVID Resilience Ranking seeks to determine the best and worst places to be in during the pandemic.

The ranking took into consideration the extended lockdown that "dimmed the economic outlook," Bloomberg said. Some 24 million people in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna were placed under the highest quarantine, ECQ, in the first half of April, which was downgraded one notch to MECQ until April 30.

Health Sec. Francisco Duque has recommended an extension of the MECQ by one to two weeks to give the health system more time to breathe. President Rodrigo Duterte will decide on the quarantines on Wednesday.

The Philippines has vaccinated 0.06% of the population so far, compared to this years target of 70%, Bloomberg said.

Singapore was ranked the best place to be in during the pandemic, dislodging New Zealand, according to the index. Although both have near-zero cases. Singapore's vaccination rollout is more advanced, Bloomberg said.

The report said vaccine supply in most places around the world is "grossly inadequate", putting pressure on richer nations like the U.S. to do more in helping out developing countries gain access to the much-needed jabs.

The COVID Resilience Ranking covers only 53 of the world's economies valued at more than $200 billion prior to the pandemic. Assessing based on 10 core metrics, it tries to capture where the pandemic is being handled most effectively all over the world, "with the least social and economic disruption—from mortality and testing rates to vaccine access and freedom of movement.".

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Vaccines alone won't end COVID

While the report saw improvements for economies that are doubling down on vaccinations, it underscored that vaccination alone wouldn't end the pandemic.

Countries like France, Poland and Chile that have good access to shots fell in the resilience rankings still, as loosened restrictions unleashed high rates of infections from new variants.

“This is not over by any means,” Ali Mokdad, Chief Strategy Officer for Population Health at the University of Washington, was quoted in the report.

“The longer this drags on, the more likely it is that we will see new variants. Then there is a need for a new vaccine or a booster vaccine, and we start all over again," he said.

With variants outpacing vaccinations, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia are able provide a "pre-pandemic quality of life" for their populations, largely due to shutting their borders, Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg said the ranking disprove theories that authoritarian states like China and Vietnam are better than democracies at handling the pandemic. Democractic governments make up majority of the top 10 since its debut in November.

South Korea and Japan, which are at rank six and seven respectively, made it without lockdowns because of their public health strategies and vigorous contact-tracing.

"Success in containing COVID-19 with the least disruption appears to rely less on being able to order people into submission and more on governments fostering a high degree of trust and societal compliance," it said.

This story originally appeared on Reportr.World. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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