Special Report

Countries Doing the Best Job Handling COVID

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The war in Ukraine, inflation, the volatile stock market, and other new troubles have been front and center in people’s minds, but although the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a back seat, it is still very much ongoing. And just as opinions differed at the beginning of the pandemic as to the best way to react to the outbreak, opinions continue to differ more than two years later.

Many countries are trying to adjust to life with COVID-19, removing most restrictions. At the same time, others are taking a far stricter stance – like China, which is reimposing total lockdowns in some places. Regardless, every country is dealing with new cases – and, sadly, more deaths – daily. About 61,000 people have died of COVID-19 worldwide in the past 28 days, according to Johns Hopkins. (These are the countries where the most people have died from COVID-19.)

But some countries are doing a better job than others of handling the pandemic with the least economic and social disruption. Which ones would be the best to visit (or live in) right now?

To find the countries that are doing the best in the face of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, 24/7 Tempo reviewed Bloomberg’s The Best and Worst Places to Be in a World Divided Over Covid, which ranked 53 economies (52 countries and one Special Administrative Region – Hong Kong) based on their reopening progress and handling of the disease, looking at several measures in three areas: reopening progress, COVID-19 status, and overall quality of life. 

In general, countries that removed most of the restrictions rank higher – for instance Norway, which lifted all travel-related restrictions in February. The U.S. still has some restrictions in place, including the requirement that passengers entering or returning to the U.S. by air show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within a day of their departure for America (or proof of recovery from the disease in the previous 90 days). Similarly, while Norway reports having dispensed nearly 210 COVID-19 vaccine doses per 100,000 people, the U.S. reports far fewer, at 173 per 100,000. (These are the states where the most people are refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.)

Click here to see the country doing the best job handling COVID
Click here to read our detailed methodology

Countries with low case and death counts also generally rank highly on the list. The case fatality ratio is under 1% in all of the top 10 countries, with many reporting ratios of less than 0.5%. In Norway, the case fatality ratio is 0.2% (it is 1.3% in the U.S.). And while several of the top countries have comprehensive universal health coverage, the U.S.’s coverage is far less comprehensive. It may not be a surprise, then, that while Norway ranks as the best country, the U.S. ranks 30th. 

It may also not be surprising to find Russia and China at the bottom of the list – but Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, ranks last, as it is currently dealing with a severe outbreak.

 

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53. Hong Kong SAR, China
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 212.4
> Lockdown severity: 75/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.8%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): N/A
> GDP per capita (2020): $59,234

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52. Russian Federation
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 113.6
> Lockdown severity: 35/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.7%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 69/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $29,812

Source: Betsy Joles / Getty Images News via Getty Images

51. China
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 234.9
> Lockdown severity: 75/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 70/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $17,211

Source: Nazim Ali Khan / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

50. Pakistan
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 117.5
> Lockdown severity: 47/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.9%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 39/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $4,813

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49. South Africa
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 57.9
> Lockdown severity: 36/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 3.3%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 60/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $13,361

Source: junpinzon / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

48. Philippines
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 133.3
> Lockdown severity: 66/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 3.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 55/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $8,390

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47. Peru
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 211.9
> Lockdown severity: 42/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 1.5%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 76/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $11,879

Source: Adeyinka Yusuf / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

46. Nigeria
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 16.5
> Lockdown severity: 36/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.3%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 38/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $5,186

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45. New Zealand
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 216.7
> Lockdown severity: 42/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 83/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $44,491

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44. Iraq
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 44.7
> Lockdown severity: 46/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.6%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 58/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $9,507

Source: Martina_L / iStock via Getty Images

43. Egypt, Arab Rep.
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 79.4
> Lockdown severity: 44/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 2.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 55/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $12,607

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42. Thailand
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 189.0
> Lockdown severity: 40/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.3%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 72/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $18,233

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41. Brazil
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 201.4
> Lockdown severity: 54/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.7%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 65/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $14,835

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40. Iran, Islamic Rep.
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 176.5
> Lockdown severity: 63/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.9%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 70/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $13,338

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39. Mexico
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 154.5
> Lockdown severity: 23/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 2.0%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 61/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $18,444

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38. Indonesia
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 146.9
> Lockdown severity: 42/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.7%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 49/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $12,073

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37. India
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 136.0
> Lockdown severity: 52/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 1.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 47/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $6,504

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36. Vietnam
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 213.8
> Lockdown severity: 64/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 60/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $8,650

35. Greece
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 194.0
> Lockdown severity: 54/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.4%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 80/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $27,949

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34. Japan
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 212.5
> Lockdown severity: 44/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 96/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $42,390

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33. Romania
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 86.7
> Lockdown severity: 11/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.7%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 70/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $32,099

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32. Taiwan
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 219.0
> Lockdown severity: 24/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.0%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 79/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $

Source: Alex Liew / iStock via Getty Images

31. Malaysia
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 212.1
> Lockdown severity: 50/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 67/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $27,924

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30. United States
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 173.4
> Lockdown severity: 38/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 1.5%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 82/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $63,207

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29. Austria
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 205.0
> Lockdown severity: 44/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 86/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $55,686

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28. Colombia
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 163.3
> Lockdown severity: 36/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 2.3%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 74/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $14,931

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27. Czech Republic
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 164.1
> Lockdown severity: 24/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.3%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 82/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $41,608

Source: Saikat Bhadra / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

26. Bangladesh
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 155.5
> Lockdown severity: 32/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.4%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 54/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $5,139

Source: Amir Levy / Getty Images News via Getty Images

25. Israel
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 196.7
> Lockdown severity: 18/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 81/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $39,489

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24. Germany
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 207.6
> Lockdown severity: 31/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 86/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $54,845

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23. Poland
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 142.7
> Lockdown severity: 15/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.9%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 73/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $34,287

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22. Argentina
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 215.9
> Lockdown severity: 24/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.9%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 61/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $20,771

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21. Italy
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 228.9
> Lockdown severity: 37/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.3%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 89/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $41,902

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20. Portugal
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 230.2
> Lockdown severity: 18/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 84/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $34,177

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19. South Korea
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 236.8
> Lockdown severity: 17/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 89/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $45,226

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18. France
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 238.5
> Lockdown severity: 19/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 91/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $46,991

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17. Finland
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 212.3
> Lockdown severity: 27/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.3%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 91/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $50,517

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16. Canada
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 219.8
> Lockdown severity: 43/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.7%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 90/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $46,572

Source: Cameron Spencer / Getty Images News via Getty Images

15. Australia
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 223.3
> Lockdown severity: 40/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 89/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $53,317

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14. Turkey
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 176.3
> Lockdown severity: 23/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.3%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 69/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $27,235

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13. Chile
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 265.6
> Lockdown severity: 25/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 1.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 74/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $25,110

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12. United Kingdom
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 211.5
> Lockdown severity: 13/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.3%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 88/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $46,483

Source: Dennis Gleiss / iStock via Getty Images

11. Spain
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 214.5
> Lockdown severity: 28/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.5%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 90/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $37,756

Source: Leon Neal / Getty Images News via Getty Images

10. Belgium
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 219.5
> Lockdown severity: 15/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 87/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $53,089

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9. Singapore
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 245.0
> Lockdown severity: 43/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 92/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $98,520

Source: Matthew Starling / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

8. Saudi Arabia
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 182.9
> Lockdown severity: 45/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 64/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $46,760

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7. Switzerland
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 187.9
> Lockdown severity: 16/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 93/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $71,745

Source: Siegfried Modola / Getty Images News via Getty Images

6. Netherlands
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 204.4
> Lockdown severity: 23/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.0%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 90/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $59,267

Source: luza studios / E+ via Getty Images

5. Sweden
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 208.4
> Lockdown severity: 11/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.6%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 90/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $55,038

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4. Denmark
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 226.9
> Lockdown severity: 11/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 84/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $60,230

Source: DieterMeyrl / E+ via Getty Images

3. United Arab Emirates
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 265.9
> Lockdown severity: 36/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.1%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 63/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $66,771

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2. Ireland
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 216.9
> Lockdown severity: 11/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 90/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $93,350

Source: Ekely / iStock via Getty Images

1. Norway
> Vaccine doses per 100k residents: 209.6
> Lockdown severity: 11/100
> 3-months case fatality rate: 0.2%
> Strength of universal health care coverage (2020): 94/100
> GDP per capita (2020): $62,645

Methodology

To find the countries that are doing the best in the face of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, 24/7 Tempo reviewed Bloomberg’s report on The Best and Worst Places to Be in a World Divided Over Covid. Bloomberg ranked 53 economies (52 countries and one Special Administrative Region – Hong Kong) based on their reopening progress and handling of the disease, considering three factors: reopening progress (such as restriction severity and vaccination progress), COVID-19 status (such as recent cases and fatalities), and quality of life (including gross domestic product growth and universal health care coverage). 

From the report, we added the Bloomberg Resiliency Score, vaccine doses per 100,000 residents, lockdown severity (with higher numbers representing stricter measures), three-month case fatality rate, and strength of the health care coverage (with higher numbers indicating better coverage). Note the Brazil score was updated. Bloomberg sourced lockdown severity scores from the Oxford University COVID-19 Government Response Tracker and health care scores from a report published in 2020 by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. We also added GDP per capita (measured using purchasing power parity method in current international dollars) for 2020 from the World Bank.

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