Coronavirus: NZ no longer #1 at fighting COVID-19, according to international ranking

New Zealand is no longer the best place in the world to be in the COVID-19 era, according to an international ranking. 

Thanks to a speedy rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Singapore is now ranked #1 in the Bloomberg COVID Resilience Index, which tracks how the world's 53 biggest economies are handling the pandemic. 

It's the first time since the index's launch in November that New Zealand hasn't held the top spot. 

"The tiny city-state has gotten locally-transmitted cases down to near zero thanks to border curbs and a strict quarantine program, allowing citizens to largely go about their everyday lives," Bloomberg authors Jinshan Hong, Rachel Chang and Kevin Varley wrote on Monday.

"At the same time, Singapore has already administered vaccines equivalent to cover a fifth of its population, an aspect of pandemic control that other virus eliminators like New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan are lagging on."

In third place is Australia, fourth Israel, and fifth Taiwan. The remainder of the top 10 is made up of South Korea, Japan, UAE, Finland and Hong Kong.

The ranking is based on a range of factors, including reported cases and deaths per capita, the case fatality ratio, vaccine rollout, restrictions on movement, GDP growth and the healthcare system as a whole. 

Last-placed is Brazil, which has struggled to contain a virulent variant of the virus, recording more than 3000 deaths a day earlier this month

India is plummeting down the leaderboard, dropping from 16th at the end of January to 30th this week, as its outbreak spirals out of control. 

Despite its world-leading vaccine rollout, Israel is still recording a few hundred cases a day - down considerably from the 10,000 a day being reported in February. 

The top 20.
The top 20. Photo credit: Bloomberg

The US has continued its strong resurgence since Joe Biden took over the presidency, rising from the 30s to 17th as its vaccine rollout exceeds expectations. The UK is right behind in 18th, climbing upwards after flattening the curve over the past few months with a speedy vaccine rollout and coming out of lockdown. About a third of people in both countries have received at least one dose.  

New Zealand has so far vaccinated fewer than 2 percent of its population but has only recorded a single death to COVID-19 in the past six months, having eliminated community transmission of the virus and outbreaks through lockdowns. In that same timeframe, Singapore has recorded three deaths. 

Taiwan has only vaccinated 0.1 percent of its population. So far it's used just the AstraZeneca vaccine, with some reports suggesting the public have been reluctant to get the jab whose safety has been questioned. Efforts by the island nation - officially known as the Republic of China - to get vaccines from Pfizer were scuppered by "political pressure", an official said in March. Mainland China claims Taiwan as its own territory. 

The Bloomberg COVID Resilience Index tracks countries with GDPs higher than US$200 billion - New Zealand just scraping onto the list.