A perfect storm
MANILA, Philippines — Only 53 economies – the world’s biggest economies – were included in the survey. The Philippines should be proud that it was included in the list drawn up by Bloomberg – except for the fact that the country was ranked as the worst place to be among the 53 economies amid the COVID pandemic.
In the monthly COVID Resilience Ranking for September, Bloomberg noted that the Philippines was the last among the Southeast Asian countries to see a slowdown in the Delta-driven COVID surge. Indonesia had ranked last in July and Malaysia in August. Vietnam is currently also in the bottom five of the 53 economies.
A Bloomberg report said the Philippines is facing a “perfect storm” of grappling with the COVID surge amid an inadequate testing regime and lost livelihoods. Vaccine coverage remains low and stringent lockdowns remain in place, Bloomberg noted. The country had seen a steady decline in its resilience ranking throughout 2021 before it hit the bottom.
The resilience ranking is based on 12 metrics related to virus containment and economic reopening. The Bloomberg report echoed what many Filipinos have pointed out: the weakness of contact tracing and COVID testing capacities, inadequate healthcare infrastructure and a fragmented response, with several local government units even going against national protocols. On border controls, Bloomberg also noted that while most foreigners are barred from entering the country, overseas workers are allowed to return.
On the positive side, Bloomberg took note of the shift to granular lockdowns, which has allowed more economic activities to resume or operate at larger capacities. As the other Southeast Asian countries have shown, the rankings can change, and even perfect storms eventually blow away. This is the challenge for the Philippines and its pandemic response team.