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Portugal worse than Sweden in responding to pandemic, says Cambridge study

82cambridge studyPortugal has been placed among the group of countries that had a less effective response to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report released by a team from the University of Cambridge. In a specific ranking of countries’’ reactions to the outbreak, Portugal appears in 25th place among the 33 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations evaluated.

The list has Spain as the country with the worst management, and South Korea as the state that best responded to the pandemic. Behind Portugal, in addition to Spain, and in order from best to worst, is Turkey, Ireland, USA, Italy, France, United Kingdom and Belgium. The authors admit that “some countries may have been artificially penalized in the data presented in this table due to their more complete reporting of deaths from Covid-19 (counting probable cases as well as tested cases)”.

Sweden, publicly regarded by many as being a bad example in their reaction to the health crisis, appears in 22nd place, three places above Portugal.

The report uses certain indicators to classify the emergency responses, including the rate of contagion and the degree of control over the spread of the outbreak, in addition to the evolution in the number of people killed. It also considers the decline in public mobility, something that has occurred to a great extent in Portugal.

“This Covid-19 control index summarizes the performance of each country in three dimensions (mortality rate, rapid contagion rate and control efficiency). We studied all OECD countries, except the three middle-income countries in Latin America (Chile, Colombia and Mexico), where the virus arrived later, and Iceland due to the lack of relevant data on physical mobility, which we used to build the efficiency index,” explain the Cambridge researchers.

Underlining that the countries with the most population had more difficulty in containing the outbreak, as they received a higher volume of visitors, the ranking allows one to conclude that “the Asia-Pacific region, in general, had a high performance, exemplified in the classifications: South Korea, 1st; Australia, 3rd; Japan, 6th “, say the authors.

At a European level, conclusions are also drawn. “In general, northern Europe outperformed the south and Eastern Europe outperformed Western Europe.”

Classifying the performance of the United States as poor, the report says that in this country, “most states introduced partial lockdowns in mid-March, but started lifting them in early May. Contagion and mortality rates are the highest in the OECD “.

Furthermore, generally speaking, the study’s authors claim that, due to the novel coronavirus, “the world is facing the worst economic and public health crisis in a century” and report that “on June 20, 2020, about 463,000 people had died of covid-19 worldwide”.

The consequences are devastating, with sustainable development being affected: “The health crisis is affecting all countries, including high-income countries in Europe and North America. The measures needed to respond to the immediate threat of Covid-19, including the closure of many economic activities for weeks, led to a global economic crisis with huge job losses and major impacts, especially on vulnerable groups. This is a significant setback for the global ambition to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly for poor countries”.

In addition, as reflected in the ranking, Cambridge analysts call attention to a shift in the geopolitical balance, in which “Asian countries have made the greatest progress towards the SDGs since their adoption in 2015” and emphasize that it is precisely these countries who “responded more effectively to the Covid-19 outbreak”. From their research, they conclude that it is likely that “the crisis will accelerate the shift of the global geopolitical and economic centre of gravity from the North Atlantic region to the Asia-Pacific region.”