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China, B'desh, Pak 'better places' to live than India during Covid? Bloomberg thinks so

By Rajiv Shah

Bloomberg, a well-known financial, software, data and media company headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, has said that India’s GDP for 2020 would slip to –10.3%, in comparison to three of its immediate neighbours, China 1.9%, Pakistan –0.4, and Bangladesh 3.8%. The GDP comparison comes in a Bloomberg report of 53 countries in its Covid Resilience Ranking.
Predicting that “the pandemic’s hit to emerging economies is likely to be longer and more sustained”, in its specific reference to India, Bloomberg report, prepared by Rachel Chang, Jinshan Hong and Kevin Varley, says, “In India, decades of social and economic progress has been wiped out as children are taken out of school to work, and the discriminatory caste system rears its head again as jobs become scarce in the cities.”
Of the 53 countries Bloomberg has ranked, only five countries, it predicts, are expected to grow in 2020. Of these two are India's neighbours -- China and Bangladesh. Overall, the top media claimed to have “crunched” the ranking in order to "determine" the best places to be in the coronavirus era in order to answer the question, “Where has the virus been handled most effectively with the least amount of disruption to business and society?”
It scores economies of more than $200 billion on 10 key metrics, including growth in virus cases, mortality rate, testing capabilities, vaccine supply agreements, local health-care system, the impact of virus-related restrictions like lockdowns on the economy, and citizens’ freedom of movement.
In the overall ranking, India is found to be far below China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. If China ranks No 8th with a score of 80.6 on a scale of 100, India ranks ranks 34th with a score of 58,1, Pakistan 27th with a score of 61.7, and Bangladesh 24th with a score of 64.2.
Further comparison suggests that India, during the Covid period, has had 97 deaths per million population, as against China’s just about three, Pakistan’s 35, and Bangladesh’s 39; India had 93 cases per million last month, as against China zero, Pakistan 23 and Bangladesh 31; last month, India had the case fatality rate of 1.2%, as China’s nil, Pakistan’s 1.9% and Bangladesh’s 1.2%; and India’s positive test rate is 4.2% as against China’s 0.1%, Pakistan’s 6.5% and Bangladesh’s 12.8%. 
In lockdown severity, India ranks 62nd, China 73rd, Pakistan 48th and Bangladesh 80th; in community mobility, India ranks –26.8% as against China –2.7%, Pakistan –3.4% and Bangladesh – 3.6%; in universal healthcare coverage, India ranks 47th, as against China 70th, Pakistan 39th and Bangladesh 54th; and in Human Development India, India is found to be 0.65 on a scale of one, as against China 0.76, Pakistan 0.56, and Bangladesh 0.61.
Ranking New Zealand, Japan and Taiwan as the top three performers, the report believes, there is a view which is gaining ground, that “the under-performance of some of the world’s most prominent democracies including the US, UK and India” is in sharp contrast to “the success of authoritarian countries like China and Vietnam”, noting, such a view “has raised questions over whether democratic societies are cut out for tackling pandemics.”
However, the report believes, “Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking tells a different story: eight of the top 10 are democracies. Success in containing Covid-19 with the least disruption appears to rely less on being able to order people into submission, but on governments engendering a high degree of trust and societal compliance.”
It underscores, “When citizens have faith in the authorities and their guidance, lockdowns may not be needed at all, as Japan, Korea – and to an extent, Sweden – show. New Zealand emphasized communication from the start, with a four-level alert system that gave people a clear picture of how and why the government would act as the outbreak evolved.”
“Investment in public health infrastructure also matters’, the report notes, adding, “Undervalued in many places before 2020, systems for contact tracing, effective testing and health education bolstered the top performers, helping socialize hand-washing and the wearing of face masks. This has been key to avoiding economically crippling lockdowns, said Anthony Fauci, the US’ top infectious diseases official.”
Score on a scale of 100
Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking exposes some uncomfortable truths for nations once considered the most advanced in the world. Major European countries like the UK and France rank in the bottom half of the list. “Connectedness has emerged as a curse in the Covid era, with global travel hubs and world cities like London, New York and Paris becoming epicentres where infections were first seeded by travelers from elsewhere”, the report says.
“In contrast”, the report asserts, “Developing countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have benefited from their relative remoteness. Their populations are also much younger on average, which has helped hold down their overall mortality rates. Limited testing and poor-quality data obscures the picture in these places, though under-reporting of cases and deaths is occurring everywhere.”

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