New Zealand has emerged as the world leader in controlling COVID-19 with Australia coming in the 8th spot in a new international ranking of political leaders.
Australian think tank the Lowy Institute has ranked countries from around the world in a new interactive tool that crunches the data on confirmed deaths and testing rates.
Finding Australia is in the Top 10 countries in the world to tackle COVID 19, it also ranks smaller countries including Vietnam, Iceland, Thailand, Cyprus and Rwanda as top performers.
The worst country in the world to handle the pandemic according to the Lowy Institute was Brazil, followed by Mexico, Colombia, Iran and the United States which is ranked as the 94th country for performance in a list of 98 countries.
Surprisingly, the United Kingdom is ranked only 66th by the Lowy Institute, but it ranks India as 86th.
China was not included in the ranking at all, on the grounds there wasn’t enough publicly available testing data on COVID infections.
“Although the coronavirus outbreak started in China, countries in the Asia–Pacific, on average, proved the most successful at containing the pandemic,’’ the report states.
“By contrast, the rapid spread of COVID-19 along the main arteries of globalisation quickly overwhelmed first Europe and then the United States. However, Europe also registered the greatest improvement over time of any region — with most countries there at one point exceeding the average performance of countries in the Asia–Pacific — before succumbing to a second, more severe, wave of the pandemic in the final months of 2020.
“Synchronous lockdowns across the highly integrated European continent successfully quelled the first wave, but more open borders left countries vulnerable to renewed outbreaks in neighbouring countries.”
“Meanwhile, the spread of the pandemic only accelerated in much of the Americas (North and South), making it the worst affected continent globally.”
Interestingly, the COVID performance index finds countries with “authoritarian” models of lockdowns and border closures have “no prolonged advantage in suppressing the virus arguing democratic nations dealt with the pandemic more effectively.
It follows debate over whether authoritarian countries including China had an advantage when ordering draconian lockdowns and COVID safety rules.
“Authoritarian regimes, on average, started off better — they were able to mobilise resources faster, and lockdowns came faster,” the Lowy Institute’s Herve Lemahieu said.
“But to sustain that over time was more difficult for them.”
The Lowy Institute argues democratic countries such as Australia had better long-term results.
Rich countries were susceptible to COVID because of international air travel but also had more financial resources to fight the pandemic
“Some countries have managed the pandemic better than others – but most countries outcompeted each other only by degrees of underperformance,’’ the report states.
“The severity of the pandemic in many countries has also changed significantly over time, with infections surging again in many places that had apparent success in suppressing initial outbreaks.
“No single type of country emerged the unanimous winner in the period examined. Variations between individual countries were far more substantial than those between broad categories of countries. Nor did a single theory convincingly explain the differences observed in national outcomes, despite some health measures proving far more effective than others.
“However, certain structural factors appear to be more closely associated with positive outcomes. For example, smaller countries (with populations of fewer than 10 million people) proved more agile than the majority of their larger counterparts in handling the health emergency for most of 2020.
“On the other hand, levels of economic development or differences in political systems between countries had less of an impact on outcomes than often assumed or publicised. There may be some truth in the argument put forward by the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama that the dividing line in effective crisis response has not been regime type, “but whether citizens trust their leaders, and whether those leaders preside over a competent and effective state”. In general, countries with smaller populations, cohesive societies, and capable institutions have a comparative advantage in dealing with a global crisis such as a pandemic.”