MANILA (UPDATE) – The Philippines fell to the bottom of Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking this month, making it the worst place to be during the pandemic among 53 countries.
Other Southeast Asian countries also slid to the bottom of Bloomberg’s list with Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam ranking 49 to 52 respectively.
“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.
The ranking is based on 12 datapoints related to virus containment, the economy and opening up, Bloomberg said.
European countries Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark were ranked 1 to 5.
Bloomberg said the Philippines scores low on all four of its metrics related to reopening, had a vaccine coverage of 20 percent which was among the lowest, and had implemented one of the most stringest lockdowns.
Flight capacity is down 74 percent below 2019 levels and the Philippines’ borders remain sealed to visitors, Bloomberg noted.
The Philippines also underperforms in terms of COVID containment, posting the second-worst positive test rate at 27 percent.
“The metric indicates the government is only testing the sickest patients for Covid and that there’s likely high levels of undetected infection in the community,” Bloomberg said.
The country is also “unlikely to meet” its goal of inoculating all adults, or 70 percent of the population this year, it added.
The government has said that it aims to fully vaccinate 77.1 million Filipinos this year. But according to ABS-CBN’s vaccine tracker, only 20.8 million have so far been fully vaccinated, representing just 27 percent of the target after almost 7 months.
The Philippines has consistently ranked near the bottom of Bloomberg’s COVID index, which government officials said was “unfair.”
PALACE BLAMES VACCINE SHORTAGE
Malacañang said it was "not surprised" that the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries were at the bottom of the list that developed nations topped.
"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,'" said his spokesman Harry Roque.
"The Philippines is a classic case in point, where inoculation is highly dependent on the availability and stability of vaccine supplies," he said in a statement.
The Philippines has in several occasions called for universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, "for the plain fact that the pandemic will not end unless the coronavirus is defeated everywhere through vaccination," Roque said.
Government, he said, has also pushed for "total health" with the re-opening of more industries and businesses while improving the country’s health care system capacity.
Among the hardest hit by the pandemic in Asia, the Philippines this week crossed 2.5 million overall coronavirus infections, including some 38,000 deaths.
Despite faring poorly in international rankings in terms of pandemic response, Duterte remains popular, according to a recently released survey.