New Zealand’s successful pandemic handling has won it international attention — and has even seen Hollywood stars shift to its shores.
But according to Bloomberg’s latest Covid resilience rankings, the island nation that’s been held up as an example of how to handle Covid-19 is no longer the best place to ride out the pandemic.
For the first time since Bloomberg’s rankings started last November, Singapore has topped the world — knocking New Zealand off its perch with a score of 79.7 to New Zealand’s 79.6.
Singapore, a country of 5.7 million, has reported more than 61,000 cases and 30 deaths, while New Zealand — a country of about 5.1 million — has reported just 2,601 cases and 26 deaths. Both countries have used strict border policies to almost entirely squash community transmission of Covid-19.
But there’s something Singapore has over New Zealand: vaccinations. While Singapore has at least partially vaccinated more than a fifth of its population, New Zealand has vaccinated less than 3%.
The Bloomberg Resilience Score ranks countries on their fatality rate and cases per 100,000 over the past month, their total deaths per 1 million, their test positive rate and the level of vaccination. Australia, Israel and Taiwan rounded out the top five spots.
For now, New Zealand is only rolling out vaccines to border workers, staff at state-run quarantine facilities, and high-risk frontline workers or those living in high-risk places, although it plans to provide everyone in the country with a free vaccine.
And while the country’s vaccination rate is lagging behind other places overseas — the United States, for instance, has already at least partially vaccinated more than 41% of its population — New Zealand isn’t alone in the region for its low vaccination rate. For example, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Australia have all been relatively slow at vaccinating their populations.
Leaders in some countries have argued there is some value in not rushing vaccines out as it allows them time to observe side effects.
But experts say these countries still need to vaccinate their populations, as having huge numbers of unvaccinated people is a risk in a world where Covid mutates and changes so rapidly.