From being the last in a list of over 120 countries first measured for their ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic one year ago, the Philippines climbed to the 33rd spot, ahead of over 80 other countries including Switzerland (38), Israel (44), Japan (53), U.K. (58), Canada (60), Australia (71), Hong Kong, China (71), New Zealand (75), Singapore (79), and the U.S. (89).

The Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index noted the consistent decline in new infections in the Philippines, with low to no confirmed deaths in recent weeks. More importantly, these safe numbers have been recorded even as the country’s borders have been open to international tourists for four months now, with tens of thousands of tourists arriving daily.

“This remarkable recovery reported by independent external observers is being balanced by safety protocols managed by the Department of Health (DOH) and our partners. Our people diligently follow DOH ‘BIDA’ reminders to wear the Best-fitting mask, Isolate when sick, Double up protection with vaccines and boosters, and ensure good Airflow. Then there are surveillance systems in place as part of the PDITR+V, with capability of whole genome sequencing by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and Philippine Genome Center (PGC), which allows us to detect, report, and immediately isolate any new virus sub-variants such as Omicron BA 2.12.1, BA.4 and most recently BA.5.,” explained Secretary of Health Francisco T. Duque III.

The Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index is an international metric that scores 121 countries each month according to their ability to reach a recovered state. Its idea of a ‘recovered’ state is one with low transmission of the virus, low death rates, high vaccine coverage, and few movement restrictions. It is based on objective measures of infection management, vaccine roll–out, and social mobility. Data are sourced from Our World in Data, Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, Cirium, and Nikkei Asia research. The latest ranking no longer measures testing as the indicator makes for an unfair comparison across countries due to area-specific and calibrated testing and surveillance policies.

The Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index has not been commissioned by any government, including that of the Philippines or its DOH. Nikkei Asia is published by Nikkei Inc. which was established in 1876, currently with 36 global bases worldwide, around 1,500 journalists, and headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.

“The DOH has always been aware that the COVID-19 pandemic response is more marathon than sprint. We are carefully pacing ourselves using the whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach, led by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. As the current administration ends, we are confident that the next administration and its incoming Secretary of Health will continue or even improve our march to recovery in the New Normal,” added Secretary Duque.