MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines ranked in the bottom quarter of 98 nations evaluated for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, lagging behind its Asian peers, according to a study released Thursday.
The Philippines garnered an average score of 30.6 using six indicators in the 36 weeks that followed its hundredth confirmed case of COVID-19, said the Lowy Institute.
The indicators include the number of confirmed virus cases, confirmed deaths, confirmed cases per million people, confirmed deaths per million people, confirmed cases as a proportion of tests, and tests per thousand people.
The country's Southeast Asian neighbors Vietnam and Thailand ranked 2nd and 4th with average scores of 90.8 and 84.2, respectively.
Singapore, Malaysia, and Myanmar placed 13th, 16th, and 24th with average scores of 74.9, 71, and 62.3, respectively.
The only Southeast Asian country that ranked below the Philippines was Indonesia at 85th place with a score of 24.7. There was no available data for Brunei, Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Laos.
The index also excludes China, where the first COVID-19 cases were identified in December 2019, due to lack of publicly available data on testing.
The Philippines in October was among 20 nations with the highest number of COVID-19 cases.
It now ranks 32nd in the world in terms of COVID-19 cases, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
"Kung dati po ay nakasanayan na natin ang old variant, tayo nga po ay number 32 na in the world, number 117 tayo in fatality rate. We have managed the old variant very well. Baka kailangan paigtingin pa natin," he said.
(We have gotten used to the old variant--we ranked 32nd in the world, 117th in fatality rate. We have managed the old variant very well, maybe we need to intensify our efforts.)
The Department of Health said it welcomes "opportunities to learn from good practices of other countries" but added that "proper context is crucial" in assessing a nation's performance.
"We can't be comparing apples to oranges. If you look at their methodology-- the measures they used did not capture the complex nature of pandemic response, for example how quickly a country initiates contact tracing, readiness of health facilities to address the surges, etc," it said.
The Philippines used "strategic and operational indicators of health and economic performance" across its Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Test - Treat strategies, the DOH added.
"We will continue to improve our response and increase our capacities, not just for this pandemic, but as we endeavor to achieve UHC (Universal Healthcare) and deliver health for all," it said.
The Philippines as of Wednesday has reported 518,407 cases of COVID-19, with 32,384 active infections.
-- With reports from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News