New Zealand has beaten the world’s most powerful nations to secure the first position in the global Covid response ranking by Bloomberg earlier this week.
New Zealand is followed by Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Finland in the Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking, and lowest ranks have been taken by Mexico, Argentina and Peru in the list of 53.
As Covid-19 has spread around the world, it’s challenged preconceptions about which places would best tackle the worst public health crisis in a generation.
Bloomberg crunched the numbers to determine the best places to be in the coronavirus era: where has the virus been handled most effectively with the least amount of disruption to business and society?
New Zealand has topped the Ranking as of Nov. 23 thanks to it's decisive, and swift action. The small island nation locked down on March 26 before a single Covid-related death had occurred, shutting its borders despite the economy’s heavy reliance on tourism.
Early on, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government said it would target “elimination” of the virus, pouring resources into testing, contact tracing and a centralized quarantine strategy to snuff out the local transmission.
Having largely achieved it, New Zealanders are basically living in a world without Covid. The nation has seen just a handful of infections in the community in recent months, and live music and large-scale social events are back on.
Though its tourism industries are suffering, New Zealand is also well-positioned for a vaccine with two supply deals in place, including one for the shot developed by Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech SE.
Advanced economies like the U.S. and U.K., ranked by various pre-2020 measures as being the most prepared for a pandemic, have been repeatedly overwhelmed by infections and face a return to costly lockdowns. Meanwhile, other countries—even developing nations—have defied expectations, some all but eliminating the pathogen within their borders.
In second place is Japan, which charted a different path. It lacks legal means to enforce a lockdown, but other strengths emerged quickly.
Due to tuberculosis outbreaks in the past, the country has maintained a public health centre system staffed with contact tracers who were quickly redeployed on Covid-19.
High levels of social trust and compliance meant citizens pro-actively wore masks and avoided crowded places. Although it’s now seeing a record uptick in infections as winter looms, the nation of more than 120 million people has just 331 serious cases of Covid-19 currently; France, with a population half the size, has nearly 5,000 virus patients in intensive care.
Japan’s ability to avoid fatalities despite having the oldest population in the world propelled it higher, as did its foresight in sewing up four vaccine deals—including both frontrunner candidates that use the revolutionary mRNA technology.
Third-place Taiwan’s success is all the more remarkable considering its linkages to mainland China, where the virus first emerged last December. Whisper networks conveying worrying news from Wuhan allowed Taiwan to act early in restricting entry at its borders.
The island then pioneered a tech-focused approach to rallying its 23 million people to protect themselves: launching apps that detail where masks are in stock or list locations where infected people visited.
It’s gone more than 200 days without a locally transmitted virus case and much like New Zealand, life has largely reverted to normal, though borders remain shut. Taiwan has so far, however, failed to ink any bilateral deals for the most progressed vaccines.
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