Thailand ranked 3rd to last worldwide on Covid-19 handling

FILE PHOTO: Thailand ranks among the worst in the world for Covid-19 recovery.

In a display of just how far you can fall, Thailand, once ranked as one of the top countries in the world for Covid-19 handling is now almost at the bottom of the rankings, number 118 out of 120. The Nikkei Asia Covid-19 recovery index calculated data from 120 countries worldwide and ranked Thailand third from last.

The study combines data on the infection rate and management, social mobility, and vaccine rollouts, ranking a country higher as they edge closer to recovery by means of high vaccination rates, low Covid-19 infection rates, and how limiting Covid-19 safety measures are.

Thailand, like Vietnam, had ranked at the top of the list in 2020, with strict lockdown and prevention measures keeping Covid-19 outbreaks to a minimum. But 2021 brought an explosion of more contagious Covid-19 variants, with surging infection numbers throughout the country.

Coupled with the government’s slow and haphazard piecemeal response, a bad bet on the Sinovac vaccine that is not very effective against new strains, and a governmental nationalism banking on domestic production of AstraZeneca vaccines mired by delays and now aiming to deliver half the original amount of vaccines, Thailand has failed to keep on top of the growing local pandemic.

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Now the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council reported that the lockdowns of 2020 shrunk the gross domestic product of Thailand by 6.1% while the mishandling of the third wave of Covid-19 has brought record daily infections and the number dying each day comparable to the total deaths of 2020.

Only 4.45% of the population has been fully vaccinated now, a far cry from the original promises of herd immunity and at least 1 vaccine for everyone in Thailand by October. Nikkei Asia quoted an observer as saying that the government couldn’t wrap their heads around the enormity of the problem and leaned towards political caution rather than medical caution when preparing a vaccine rollout, not wanting to overestimate and jump the gun on vaccine procurement.

Another factor that keeps Thailand ranked low on the Covid-19 recovery list is the inequality of vaccine availability. Elderly, ailing people, and high-risk workers have struggled to find access to vaccines while members of Thailand’s rich, elite Hi-So who were responsible for much of the worst outbreaks have been able to abuse connections and influence to get vaccinated ahead of people in dire need. Nikkei observes it as a more visible example of the way Thailand commonly operates, a wide social gap where the rich and influential are above the law and rules.

All this led to Thailand’s grand tumble from the top of the Covid-19 handling ranks to the bottom, placing lower than Malaysia (114), Sri Lanka (113), Indonesia (110), Philippines (108), and even India (ranked number 77). Meanwhile, some early horror story countries at the beginning of the pandemic turned things around. The top five countries in order are China, Malta, Poland, Italy, and Austria.

Israel, currently seeing some new outbreaks, is still ranked 9th, and the United States which had previously accounted for more than a quarter of all Covid-19 in the world now ranks 27th.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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