The new Pandemic Resilience Index is out, what has changed since 2021?
Covid-19 pandemic took the world by storm. Most countries’ healthcare systems proved to be entirely unprepared for a health crisis of this scale. Some countries were able to react and adapt more swiftly than others. Pandemic Resilience Index (PRI), presented by the Consumer Choice Center back in 2021, ranked countries based on their resilience to Covid-19 and other similar crises.
The PRI examined 40 countries by several factors: vaccination approval, its drive, and time lags that have put brakes on it, critical care bed capacity, and mass testing. Israel came in first, followed by UAE, while Australia, New Zealand, and Ukraine ended up at the very bottom.
Recently, we updated the PRI. Compared to the initial results, the change in the ranking is primarily due to the booster vaccine rollout delays.
This year, the UAE found itself at the top of the ranking, closely followed by Cyprus. UAE was a pioneer in booster rollout, having given booster shots to about 42% of its 10 million population. Unfortunately, not all countries were quick to react to new variants and the subsequent need for additional doses. Countries like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Ukraine took five months longer than the UAE – the first country to start the programme – to get booster rollout up and running.
Ukraine and India are the only countries that hadn’t rolled out the booster programme by November 30, 2021 (The PRI 2022 uses November 30 2021 as a cutoff date). According to the Ukrainian first deputy health minister, they wanted to reach the target of having at least 50% of the population fully vaccinated, before allowing for boosters shot to be administered, a goal that is yet to be reached. At the moment, both countries have acknowledged the need for booster shots and rolled it out at the beginning of this year.
Israel, ranked number one in the PRI 2021, was demoted to 5th place, mainly due to its delay with vaccine rollout, which started 75 days after the UAE. The UAE started administering booster shots to its residents back in May 2021, while on average other countries lagged 3 months behind.
Cyprus reached the second place mainly due to its high testing rates. The daily covid test average per capita 128 times higher than in Brazil, for example.
Greece had the most significant percentage change in terms of daily testing. Most countries saw an increase in this aspect, except for Luxembourg and Sweden, where the change was negative. Ukraine, with the second-lowest number of daily covid tests, remains at the bottom.
When it comes to vaccination rates, Brazil has seen the most impressive improvement in vaccination numbers since the Pandemic Resilience Index 2021 was published. The number of vaccinated people in Brazil increased from 2.4% to 63% by the end of November 2021.
Availability of booster shots is especially important as not only does it provide better protection, but more and more countries are putting expiration dates on vaccines. For example, to visit France, if it’s been more than nine months since your last vaccine shot, you have first to get a booster shot. Despite delays, all of the studied countries (except for Ukraine and India) had already started offering booster shots to their population before the emergence of the new Omicron variant.
Despite the initial one-year-long shock that everyone experienced, with restrictions getting lifted, scrapping of vaccine passports in some countries and border reopenings, it seems we are finally getting back to everyday lives. While we hope we never have to deal with a pandemic of such size ever again, countries worldwide must learn a lesson from this horrid experience and have their healthcare systems better prepared for any upcoming threats.