Philippines ranks last in COVID-19 resilience report

Philippines ranks last in COVID-19 resilience report

Philippines ranks last in COVID-19 resilience report

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines fell to last place in a study that measures the resilience and response of countries to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a score of 40.2, the Philippines ranked last among 53 countries included in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking, which shows “where the virus is being handled the most effectively with the least social and economic upheaval.”

This was one place down from its 52nd ranking in the previous report.

“The Philippines faces a perfect storm in that it’s grappling with the more ferocious Delta variant at the same time as it works with an inadequate testing regime and sees disruptions to its economy and people’s livelihoods as the pandemic continues to rage,” Bloomberg said in a piece explaining the country’s drop to the 53rd place.

The country scored low on all four of Bloomberg’s metrics related to opening: vaccination coverage rate, lockdown severity, flight capacity, and vaccinated travel routes.

The Philippines also had the second worst positivity test rate in the list at 27%.

Southeast Asian nations occupied the bottom rungs of the ranking: Indonesia (49th), Thailand (50th), Malaysia (51st) and Vietnam (52nd).

“While the region’s outbreak may have peaked, their export-reliant economies are still struggling from the hit,” Bloomberg said.

Boost vaccination, testing

Bloomberg said the Philippines needs to focus on ramping up its vaccination rate and ensuring that COVID-19 jabs are given to the most at-risk sectors.

As of September 28, the Philippines has administered 44.7 million COVID-19 doses, but only 20.8 million have completed vaccination.

The government was initially hoping to fully vaccinate 70% of the country’s 109 million population, but the emergence of the hyper contagious Delta variant prompted officials to increase the target inoculation coverage to 90%. Policymakers said it would only be attained in 2022, at the earliest, amid tight supply of life-saving jabs.

Bloomberg also said that the Philippines needs to bolster its testing approach to control the spread of the virus.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the department is open to the report of Bloomberg as it “gives us more direction in how we do our response.” But she maintained that its vaccination drive has “tremendously improved.”

The Philippines has reported 2.5 million COVID-19 cases, including 38,164 deaths, since the start of the pandemic.

'Not surprised'

Malacañang said it is not surprised by the results of the Bloomberg report, noting that the phase of the country's vaccination program is dependent on supply.

"We are not surprised that the Philippines, together with other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are at the bottom of the list while countries which topped the list are developed countries such as Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, Finland and Denmark," presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

"Vaccines are key towards defeating COVID-19. Unfortunately, as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte articulated in the United Nations, 'rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines, while poor nations wait for trickles.' The Philippines is a classic case in point, where inoculation is highly dependent on the availability and stability of vaccine supplies," he added.

Roque said the Philippines has been pushing for universal access to COVID-19 vaccines because the pandemic won't end unless the coronavirus is defeated everywhere through vaccination.

"In addition, this resilience ranking is in line with the notion of total health, which we personally advocated, where the re-opening of more industries and businesses allowing more people to return to their livelihood must be balanced with improving the country’s healthcare system capacity," he added.

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