New Zealand responded to the coronavirus pandemic better than any other country in the world, new research by an international policy think tank has found.
The Lowy Institute's COVID Performance Index, launched on Thursday (local time), ranks Aotearoa's management of COVID-19 outbreak above the likes of Taiwan, Thailand and Australia.
The index gauges the comparative performance of 98 countries by looking at six criteria:
- Confirmed cases
- Confirmed deaths
- Confirmed cases per million people
- Confirmed deaths per million people
- Confirmed cases as a proportion of tests
- Tests per thousand people
The Lowy Institute takes the 14-day rolling averages of these daily figures, then produces a score between zero (worst-performing) and 100 (best-performing) depending on how it compares to other countries.
New Zealand has a score of 94.4 - 3.6 points above Vietnam in second and 16.5 points above neighbours Australia in eighth - reflecting the small number of cases and deaths and high rates of testing we've seen since the outbreak first reached our shores.
On the other end of the scale, Brazil sits rock-bottom on 4.3 points, with Mexico and Colombia not much better. The United States, which saw case numbers and deaths skyrocket under former President Donald Trump's leadership, is 94th with 17.3 points.
The UK, which like the US has drawn sharp criticism for the speed and efficacy of its COVID-19 response, is 66th on the index, with Canada 61st, Germany 55th, Sweden 37th and Singapore 13th.
The data shows smaller countries (those with populations of less than 10 million people) tend to perform better than larger ones in tackling the pandemic. The likes of Cyprus, Latvia, Iceland and Rwanda, which make up the index's top 10 alongside New Zealand, are examples of this.
Speaking to ABC, Lowy Institute spokesperson Herve Lemahieu said managing a crisis appeared to be easier the smaller the population is.
"Countries with populations fewer than 10 million people proved more agile, on average, than the majority of their larger counterparts in handling the health emergency," he said.
Likewise, democracies performed better than other political systems over the long-term. While the data suggests authoritarian regimes like Ethiopia, Libya and Myanmar were able to impose lockdowns and mobilise resources early, it proved difficult to sustain.
Conversely, many democracies started poorly before implementing measures that saw their performance improve. While they were the best-performing political systems overall, however, many countries slacked off over time, resulting in second waves of the virus.
This is most notable in Europe, which was the best-performing region in the world before a swathe of second waves saw it relegated to the worst. The Asia-Pacific region, of which New Zealand is part, is the best region overall.
Top 10 countries on COVID Performance Index
- New Zealand - 94.4 points
- Vietnam - 90.8 points
- Taiwan - 86.4 points
- Thailand - 84.2 points
- Cyprus - 83.3 points
- Rwanda - 80.8 points
- Iceland - 80.1 points
- Australia - 77.9 points
- Latvia - 77.5 points
- Sri Lanka - 76.8 points
Bottom 10 countries on COVID Performance Index
- Brazil - 4.3 points
- Mexico - 6.5 points
- Colombia - 7.7 points
- Iran - 15.9 points
- United States - 17.3 points
- Bolivia - 18.9 points
- Panama - 19.7 points
- Oman - 20.3 points
- Ukraine - 20.7 points
- Chile - 22.0 points