live news

A border guard is given a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Auckland, New Zealand on February 20. Xinhua / Sipa USA

New Zealand’s successful handling of pandemics has garnered international attention – and even moved Hollywood stars to its shoreline.

According to Bloomberg’s latest Covid Resilience Ranking, the island nation cited as an example of how to deal with Covid-19 is no longer the best place to weather the pandemic.

For the first time since the Bloomberg rankings began last November, Singapore topped the world, knocking New Zealand off the field with a score of 79.7 to 79.6 in New Zealand.

Singapore, a country of 5.7 million people, has reported more than 61,000 cases and 30 deaths, while New Zealand – a country of around 5.1 million people – has reported just 2,601 cases and 26 deaths. Both countries have applied strict border guidelines to almost completely suppress the transmission of Covid-19 by the community.

But Singapore has something about 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 based on their death rate and cases per 100,000 last month, total deaths per 1 million, positive test rate, and vaccination level. Australia, Israel and Taiwan rounded off the top 5.

Currently, New Zealand is only introducing vaccines for border workers, government quarantine workers and frontline workers at high risk or those living in high risk locations, although it plans to make a free vaccine available to everyone in the country.

And while the country’s vaccination rate lags other overseas locations – the United States, for example, has already vaccinated more than 41% of the population, at least partially – New Zealand is not alone in the region because of its low vaccination rate. For example, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and Australia have vaccinated their populations relatively slowly.

Leading companies in some countries have argued that there is some value in not weeding vaccines as they have time to observe side effects.

However, experts say these countries still need to vaccinate their populations as large numbers of unvaccinated people are at risk in a world where Covid is mutating and changing so rapidly.