In what might come as no surprise to anyone, the Philippines ranks 79th out of 98 countries when it comes to responding to the pandemic.
According to the COVID Performance Index released by the Australian think tank Lowy Institute, the Philippines received a score of 30.6 out of a possible 100. The only other Southeast Asian country that scored lower was Indonesia at 85th place.
Neighboring countries like Vietnam and Thailand are on top of the list. Vietnam scored 90.8, ranking second after New Zealand. Thailand ranked fourth on the list, scoring 84. Countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar also fared better, ranking 13th, 16th and 24th, respectively.
Due to lack of data, countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Brunei and Timor-Leste were not included in the report. China was also missing from the report due to a lack of publicly available data.
The Lowy Institute evaluated the 98 countries in the 36 weeks following the 100th confirmed case in their respective areas. They were then given scores based on six indicators, namely:
- Number of confirmed cases
- Number of confirmed deaths
- Confirmed cases per million people
- Confirmed deaths per million people
- Confirmed cases in proportion to tests
- Tests per thousand people
“Although Asia–Pacific countries fared well as a whole against the coronavirus, country performance across the region varied significantly between high performers and persistent strugglers,” the report notes.
“Significant underperformers, such as India, Indonesia and the Philippines emerged too, struggling to contain COVID-19 throughout much of 2020 with few signs of improvement.”
Following the release of this report, the Department of Health commented that the report failed to contextualize the country’s COVID-19 response.
“We can’t be comparing apples to oranges,” the department said. “The measures used did not capture the complex nature of pandemic response, for example, how quickly a country initiates contact tracing [and] readiness of health facilities to address the surges.”
Health Secretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire pointed out the “unfair” comparison of the Philippines with other countries’ health systems. “Comparing us with [the] United States, comparing us with Thailand which have better health systems from the start compared to the Philippines, I think it’s not at all fair or I think it’s not alright,” she explained in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.