The best and worst places to be during the pandemic right now – where South Africa ranks

Bloomberg has published its new Covid Resilience Ranking, a barometer that ranks the largest 53 economies on their success at containing the virus with the least amount of social and economic disruption.

In formulating the ranking, Bloomberg considers 12 data indicators that span Covid containment, quality of healthcare, vaccination coverage, overall mortality and progress toward restarting travel and easing border curbs.

Norway was ranked first in this month’s ranking, with enough shots administered to cover almost half its population, few new fatalities and its borders opened.

The embrace of travel amid falling fatalities put Switzerland second, while New Zealand, a stalwart of the top three after eliminating Covid, is third.

The shifts in the ranking in July reflect the tension between vaccine-led reopening and virus containment as contagious new strains spread, Bloomberg said.

While the US was once in the sweet spot of high inoculation, waning case counts and rapid reopening, now it’s at a crossroads with vaccination hitting a wall and infections flaring again.

At the bottom of the 53 economies ranked is Indonesia, where more than 1,300 people are now dying every day and the supply of shots isn’t meeting the needs of the large population.

It’s a quandary faced by other low-ranked places like Malaysia, the Philippines and Bangladesh, reinforcing a rich-poor divide in the ranking that parallels what World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called a “catastrophic moral failure” in vaccine access.

Only marginally better is South Africa in 51st, with the country scoring poorly because of the low number of vaccines it has distributed to its population, as well as the severity of its lockdowns and heavy travel restrictions.

The ‘two-track’ pandemic

Vaccination is where places like the US and Europe have made up for ground lost in their inability to effectively contain Covid, Bloomberg said.

“They’ve moved to the top in the Resilience Ranking as investment in research and a focus on fast rollouts proves pivotal.

“The US’s Operation Warp Speed saw some $18 billion ploughed into developing the first Covid-19 vaccines.”

Economies that moved early on securing and administering shots have the advantage of being mostly—and in Israel’s case, entirely—inoculated with mRNA vaccines, which appear to not just prevent a person from developing Covid, but from contracting and transmitting it as well.

While the evidence is still early, vaccines that rely on more traditional technology don’t appear to do this to the same degree, though they’re proving effective in stopping people from getting critically ill and dying from the virus.

In places where the majority are inoculated, the link between infection numbers and deaths appears to be weakening, and policymakers are reframing the way they view Covid-19 cases.

While South Africa is beginning to ramp up its vaccine rollout, most of the developing world is yet to start inoculating in a meaningful way, lacking the purchasing power to forge deals that put them at the front of the queue.

“Covax, the WHO-backed effort to help poorer countries procure doses, only started distributing shots at the end of February and is facing a supply shortfall that’s seen many places run out of vaccines entirely.

“Among advanced economies as defined by the International Monetary Fund, around 48% of the population are covered with shots, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. The figure is 22% for developing economies.”

With further reporting by Bloomberg.


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The best and worst places to be during the pandemic right now – where South Africa ranks