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New Zealand has had the best response to the COVID-19 pandemic of any nation globally, data from an independent think tank has revealed, with Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand following in second, third and fourth place, respectively. 

The Lowy Institute’s COVID Performance Index tracked six COVID-19 measures across 98 countries, including the number of cases, deaths, cases as a proportion of tests and tests per thousand people in the 36 weeks following each country's hundredth confirmed case of the virus.

Other nations in the top 10 include Cyprus, Rwanda, Iceland, Australia, Latvia and Sri Lanka. 

Brazil was ranked last, followed by Mexico, Colombia and Iran. The United States performed only marginally better, ranking 94th. The United Kingdom sits at the 66th spot, with Canada in 61st place, South Africa at 82nd, Indonesia at 85th and India, with a population of 1.3 billion and 11 million confirmed cases, ranking 86th. 

China was not included due to a lack of reliable, public data. 

On average, Asia-Pacific nations performed best out of all regions, while North and South America were the continents that performed the worst globally. 

"The rapid spread of COVID-19 along the main arteries of globalisation quickly overwhelmed first Europe and then the United States,” the report reads. “However, Europe also registered the greatest improvement over time of any region — with most countries there at one point exceeding the average performance of countries in the Asia–Pacific — before succumbing to a second, more severe, wave of the pandemic in the final months of 2020.” 

Countries were also categorised by population size, political system and economic development. 

Nations with a population under 10 million outperformed larger countries, as did, on average, wealthier countries. 

Authoritarian regimes and democracies were ranked fairly equally, in contrast to beliefs that authoritarianism presented an advantage. Despite exceptions like the US and UK, “democracies found marginally more success than other forms of government.” 

Hybrid regimes like Bolivia and Ukraine “appeared least able to meet the challenge.”

"No single type of country emerged the unanimous winner in the period examined,” the report states. “In general, countries with smaller populations, cohesive societies and capable institutions have a comparative advantage in dealing with a global crisis such as a pandemic.” 

Top 10

  1. New Zealand

  2. Vietnam

  3. Taiwan

  4. Thailand

  5. Cyprus

  6. Rwanda

  7. Iceland

  8. Australia

  9. Latvia

  10. Sri Lanka

Bottom 10 

  1. Chile 

  2. Ukraine

  3. Oman

  4. Panama

  5. Bolivia

  6. United States

  7. Iran

  8. Colombia

  9. Mexico

  10. Brazil


Defeat Poverty

New Zealand, Vietnam, Taiwan Top List of Countries With the Most Effective COVID-19 Responses

By Madeleine Keck  and  Nora Holz