Malacañang on Wednesday blamed Covid-19 vaccine hoarding for the country’s poor ranking in a study that measures economies’ resilience to the ongoing pandemic.
Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said Bloomberg’s Covid-19 report — which tagged the Philippines as the worst place to be amid the pandemic — did not surprise the Duterte administration due to challenges in the government’s inoculation efforts.
“We are not surprised that the Philippines, together with other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are at the bottom of the list, while countries which topped the list are developed countries,” he said through a statement sent to reporters.
“The Philippines is a classic case in point, where inoculation is highly dependent on the availability and stability of vaccine supplies,” Roque added.
The Palace official noted that President Rodrigo Duterte had recently slammed affluent countries before the United Nations for supposedly depriving poor nations of life-saving jabs.
“Having said this, the Philippines, in many numerous occasions, has advanced its position on the universal access to Covid-19 vaccines, for the plain fact that the pandemic will not end unless the coronavirus is defeated everywhere through vaccination,” Roque said.
The Philippines — with a score of 40.2 — ranked last among 53 countries based on Bloomberg’s resilience indicators such as vaccination coverage, quality of healthcare services, severity of lockdowns and restrictions, progress on restarting travel and easing up border curbs, among others.
It was one rank lower in the previous report published in June 2021 where the Philippines ranked 52 out of 53 countries.
According to Bloomberg, the Philippines’ drop to the bottom of the list reflects the challenges it has been facing from the onslaught of the Delta variant.
Other Southeast Asian countries joined the Philippines at the bottom five — Indonesia with a score of 52.4, Thailand with 47.6, Malaysia with 44.1, and Vietnam with 43.7.
Meanwhile, European countries topped the list with Ireland getting a resilience score of 79.4, Spain with 78.2, the Netherlands with 76.4, Finland with 76.1, and Denmark with 75.3.
The report also highlighted some long-term lessons countries can learn from the pandemic, including a “widespread degree of government trust and societal compliance.”
The Bloomberg study also underscored the importance of investing in public health infrastructure as well as research and development.
“Undervalued in many places before 2020, systems for contact tracing, effective testing, and health education bolstered the countries that have performed consistently well in the ranking, helping socialize hand-washing and the wearing of face masks. This was key to avoiding economically crippling lockdowns in the first year before vaccines were available,” it added.