Coronavirus: UK ranks near bottom of damning league table

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Britain ranks near the bottom of a damning global league table that compares how countries have tackled the Covid-19 pandemic.

Only Belgium fared worse, according to a review of testing, healthcare and death rates that gave 21 OECD member nations a score out of four. 

The UK (2.22) was on par with Italy and Spain. Sweden, which controversially bucked the trend and opted against imposing a lockdown, scored higher (2.56). 

Analysts behind the report claimed the low scores recorded for both Spain and Italy were ‘understandable’, given they were the first in Europe to be hit. 

They said the UK’s response was too slow even though it had ‘time to prepare’, and also blamed a lack of testing capacity and the controversial decision to abandon contact tracing in March. 

New Zealand fared the best (3.67). The US — whose performance was ‘not as poor’ as the death figures suggest — came mid-table (3.11), the report revealed. 

HOW WAS THE SCORE CALCULATED? 

The Economist Intelligence Unit created an index to assess the quality of responses across more than half of the 37 OECD member nations.

All of the countries — including the US and Australia — received a score of between one and four on three different ‘quality of response’ measures. 

These included the number of tests per million people, number of cancer-related surgeries cancelled and excess deaths per million people. 

Nations were also given a score for three coronavirus risk factors, including obesity prevalence and their percentage of over-65s.

The final risk factor related to international arrivals, based on the number of people who travelled to the country as a share of the population. 

Each country got an average score, with excess deaths given the biggest weighting because it was deemed the most important mark.

For example, the UK scored 17 overall on the six factors. But because excess deaths were multiplied by a factor of four it equates to 20 — giving it an average of 2.22. 

The Economist Intelligence Unit created an index to assess the quality of responses across more than half of the 37 OECD member nations.

All of the countries — including the US and Australia — received a score of between one and four on three different ‘quality of response’ measures. 

These included the number of tests available, provision of non-Covid-19 healthcare and excess deaths, or how many more people died than expected. 

Nations were also given a score for three coronavirus risk factors, including obesity prevalence and their percentage of over-65s.

The final risk factor related to international arrivals, based on the number of people who travelled to the country as a share of the population. 

Each country got an average score, with excess deaths given the biggest weighting because it was deemed the most important mark.

For example, the UK scored 17 overall on the six factors. But because excess deaths were multiplied by a factor of four it equates to 20 — giving it an average of 2.22. 

The report acknowledged Italy and Spain’s scores — both of whom also got 2.22 — were partly down to them being the first in Europe to be hit, accepting they had ‘little time to prepare’. 

But analysts claimed it was ‘harder to explain’ the UK’s poor score, saying the ‘global connectivity’ of London may have played a role in the death toll. 

Official data released by the statistical bodies of each of the home nations showed the UK has suffered around 64,000 excess deaths since the start of the crisis. 

The team wrote: ‘The country had a slower build-up of cases than other European countries and more time to prepare. 

‘In addition, Britain’s centralised public healthcare system provided the government with crucial data as to who was most at risk.’ 

New Zealand was shown to have had the best response to the pandemic, scoring an average of 3.67. Germany and Austria (3.56) rounded up the top three, followed by Australia, Israel, Iceland, Norway and Denmark (all 3.44)

New Zealand was shown to have had the best response to the pandemic, scoring an average of 3.67. Germany and Austria (3.56) rounded up the top three, followed by Australia, Israel, Iceland, Norway and Denmark (all 3.44)

SUMMER HOLIDAYS COULD BE BACK ON, MATT HANCOCK SAYS

Britons could yet take foreign holidays this summer as ministers draw up a list of countries who could be exempt from tough quarantine laws, Matt Hancock confirmed today.

While the 14-day self-isolation for arrivals from countries where coronavirus is ‘out of control’ like Brazil, countries with far lower numbers of cases could be exempted, the Health Secretary said this morning.

He refused to divulge which countries could be included but confirmed he and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps are a working on a list of these countries and it will be published before the quarantine is reviewed on June 29.

The comments will bring hope to millions of under-pressure Britons desperate for a summer break. But it remains to be seen which countries will want to welcome UK visitors, with the country having the highest death rate in Europe.

Mr Hancock told the BBC’s Today programme that the quarantine would have to stay for places where the disease is still rife. He cited Brazil as an example.

‘Having said that there are other countries where it may be safe to not have a quarantine in place in the same way,’ he added.

‘Ahead of the formal legally-required review of the quarantine arrangements on June 29 I am working with Grant Shapps on whether there are countries that have a low rate of infection, where we trust their figures, where the infection isn’t going up and we can have that discussion with the other country, and come to an agreement on a travel corridor.’

The team suggested an ‘insufficiently fast and co-ordinated response’ as well as the  ‘initial lack of testing capacity’ for the UK’s poor response.

And they claimed Number 10’s controversial decision to suspend track and trace in early March ‘may help to explain why the UK became an outlier’.

New Zealand was shown to have had the best response to the pandemic, scoring an average of 3.67.

It comes after the country’s 24-day streak without a Covid-19 case was ended earlier this week when two British travellers tested positive. 

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week declared victory over Covid-19, after imposing one of the toughest lockdowns. 

Germany and Austria (3.56) rounded up the top three, followed by Australia, Israel, Iceland, Norway and Denmark (all 3.44). 

The report said: ‘These countries have so far recorded low numbers of extra deaths during the pandemic.’

It also praised them for putting ‘solid’ tracking and testing programmes in place, as well as continuing to provide healthcare services to non-Covid-19 patients. 

Analysts described it as a ‘particularly impressive feat’ because most of the countries had high over-65s population.

The report added: ‘Overall, these countries appear to have succeeded in containing the pandemic because they reacted early and swiftly. 

‘Not all introduced stringent lockdowns, but all implemented aggressive testing and tracing programmes.’

Even Sweden — which bucked the trend and opted against imposing a lockdown to contain the Covid-19 crisis — ranked better than Britain (2.56).

The US, which has recorded more than 2.1million cases, scored 3.11, putting it on par with Chile — South America’s third worst-hit nation. 

The EIU report described the score for the US as ‘interesting’, given it has the world’s biggest coronavirus death toll with 118,000 victims.

Analysts suggested the number of fatalities may be partly down to both the nation’s population and the ‘poor initial response of the US administration’.

But when Washington’s response was assessed against risk factors, its performance was ‘not as poor as the crude data may suggest’. 

The report added: ‘In fact, it is better than that of most of the countries that shared a similar risk profile.

‘Chile’s performance is comparable to France or the US, and much better than that of the UK, for instance. 

‘This shows that richer countries did not necessarily tackle the pandemic better than less affluent ones.’

And South Korea, praised for quickly stopping an outbreak escalating through a test and trace regime, scored only 2.78.    

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