Thailand ranks fourth worldwide for pandemic handling

The Kingdom of Thailand has been ranked as the fourth country in the world that has most effectively handled the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new analysis released by independent Australian think tank the Lowy Institute,

The Covid Performance Index: Deconstructing Pandemic Responses, ranked New Zealand at the top of the list, followed by Vietnam and Taiwan, Thailand, and Cyprus. The Republic of China was excluded due to a lack of available data on testing.

The publication looked at the performance of 98 countries in the 36 weeks after they reported their first 100 cases.

The Asia-Pacific was overall the best-performing region. Thailand’s neighbouring countries Singapore and Malaysia were ranked 13th and 16th, respectively, while Indonesia and India were ranked 85 and 86.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom was ranked 66th, and the United States was at 94 followed by Iran, Colombia, Mexico and finally Brazil in 98th and last position.

The findings seem to indicate no trend in relation to regime type, income levels, or inequality.

There is “no easy answer” when it comes to which type of country performed best at tackling Covid, according to one of Lowy’s authors, Alyssa Leng, as “there are a lot of nuances in the Covid narrative.”

What is worth noting, however, could be the size of a country, according to the study.

“In terms of population, less appears to be more. Small countries (fewer than 10 million peoplle) on average proved more agile. Larger ones tended to struggle partly because they could not close internal borders with the same ease that small countries could ringfence external borders,” another author, Hervé Lemahieu, wrote on his Twitter page. “No coincidence that 6 of the top-10 countries are island states.”

“Systemic factors alone – a society’s regional provenance, political system, development status, or size – cannot account fully for differences observed. Political circumstances, policy choices & community buy-in appear to be just as important in shaping national responses,” said Lemahieu.

The prosperity of a country may, however, have a little to do with its success. Countries with higher income per capita had more resources to fight the pandemic since its onset, but they soon lost their equilibrium when cases surged in Europe and North America in the latter half of 2020. Poorer and developing countries, on the other hand, had more lead time and a “greater sense of urgency” to enforce preventive measures “after the scale and severity of the global crisis became known.”

But the institute also predicted that that will soon change with the “uneven deployment” of the vaccine rollout during 2021, where richer nations will undoubtedly have the upper hand in the Covid recovery efforts.

“Likely we’re now entering into a new chapter of the pandemic. Rich countries may soon leave the developing world behind in crisis recovery efforts with mass hoarding of promising Covid-19 vaccines,” said Lemahieu. “Doesn’t bode well.”

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