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Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country

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Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country

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Global Health Security Index

Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country

The world has experienced many pandemics throughout its history, but not every era has had the benefit of modern medicine and hindsight.

However, even with the readily available medical expertise and equipment that exists today, it is still unevenly distributed throughout the globe. Combine this with a highly interconnected global economy, and large populations are still at risk from infection.

Today’s chart pulls data from the 2019 Global Health Security Index, which ranks 195 countries on health security. It reveals that while there were top performers, healthcare systems around the world on average are fundamentally weak—and not prepared for new disease outbreaks.

Pathways for Commerce and Disease

Modern transportation and trade have linked the farthest stretches of the world to fuel a global economy. Physical distance plays less a limiting role and more an enabling one to form a flat world as Thomas Friedman put it, creating opportunities for commerce anywhere in the world.

A person can sell dishware from his home in Cusco, Peru, online to a customer in Muncie, Indiana, with products manufactured in China, from materials sourced in Africa.

While these connections sound sterile, there are people interacting with one another to procure, manufacture, package, and distribute the goods. The connections are not just through products, but also people and animals across many borders.

Now, add up the interactions within the global food supply chain with plants and livestock and tourism industries and place them under the pressures of climate change, urbanization, international mass displacement, and migration—and the volume and variety of opportunities for disease transmission and mutation becomes infinite.

The same pathways of global commerce become the transmission vectors for disease. A cough in Dubai can become a fever in London with one flight and one day.

You Cannot Manage What You Do Not Measure

Despite this, we still live with national healthcare systems that look inward towards national populations, with less of a focus on integrating what is happening with the outside world.

The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is the first comprehensive effort to assess and benchmark health security and related capabilities by nation, and it tracks six key factors to come up with an overall score for each of the 195 countries in the ranking:

  1. Prevention
    Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens
  2. Detection and Reporting
    Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern
  3. Rapid Response
    Capability of rapidly responding to and mitigating the spread of an epidemic
  4. Health System
    Sufficient and robust and health system to treat the sick and protect health workers
  5. Compliance with Global Norms
    Compliance with international norms by improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps
  6. Risk Environment
    Risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats

Note: The GHS Index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU), and was developed with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Country Overall Rankings

Overall, the rankings uncover a distressing insight. Global preparedness for both epidemics and pandemics is weak, with the average score in the index sitting at 40.2 out of 100.

The countries with the highest scores have effective governance and politics systems in place, while those with the lowest scores fall down for their inadequate healthcare systems—even among high-income countries.

Here are the 50 highest-ranking countries in the index:

RankCountryGHS Index Score
#1🇺🇸 United States83.5
#2🇬🇧 United Kingdom77.9
#3🇳🇱 Netherlands75.6
#4🇦🇺 Australia75.5
#5🇨🇦 Canada75.3
#6🇹🇭 Thailand73.2
#7🇸🇪 Sweden72.1
#8🇩🇰 Denmark70.4
#9🇰🇷 South Korea70.2
#10🇫🇮 Finland68.7
#11France68.2
#12Slovenia67.2
#13Switzerland67
#14Germany66
#15Spain65.9
#16Norway64.6
#17Latvia62.9
#18Malaysia62.2
#19Belgium61
#20Portugal60.3
#21Japan59.8
#22Brazil59.7
#23Ireland59
#24Singapore58.7
#25Argentina58.6
#26Austria58.5
#27Chile58.3
#28Mexico57.6
#29Estonia57
#30Indonesia56.6
#31Italy56.2
#32Poland55.4
#33Lithuania55
#34South Africa54.8
#35Hungary54
#35New Zealand54
#37Greece53.8
#38Croatia53.3
#39Albania52.9
#40Turkey52.4
#41Serbia52.3
#42Czech Republic52
#42Georgia52
#44Armenia50.2
#45Ecuador50.1
#46Mongolia49.5
#47Kyrgyz Republic49.3
#47Saudi Arabia49.3
#49Peru49.2
#50Vietnam49.1

You can view the complete rankings of all 195 countries on the GHS Index website.

Interestingly, 81% of countries score in the bottom tier for indicators related to biosecurity—and worse, 85% of countries show no evidence of having completed a biological threat-focused simulation exercise in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the past year.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases vs. Global Health Security Score

Many healthcare systems have had their security tested with the outbreak of COVID-19.

global health secutiry score vs covid19 cases

Although it is still extremely early, there appears to be a relationship between a nation’s health security and its ability to cope with pandemics.

Takeaways: A World Unprepared

While there may be top performers relative to other countries, the overall picture paints a grim picture that foreshadowed the current crisis we are living through.

“It is likely that the world will continue to face outbreaks that most countries are ill positioned to combat. In addition to climate change and urbanization, international mass displacement and migration—now happening in nearly every corner of the world—create ideal conditions for the emergence and spread of pathogens.” – The Global Health Security Index, 2019

The report outlined eight critical insights about global health security in 2019 that reveal some of the problems countries are now facing.

  1. National health security is fundamentally weak globally. No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.
  2. Countries are not prepared for a globally catastrophic biological event.
  3. There is little evidence that most countries have tested important health security capacities or shown that they would be functional in a crisis.
  4. Most countries have not allocated funding from national budgets to fill identified preparedness gaps.
  5. More than half of countries face major political and security risks that could undermine national capability to combat biological threats.
  6. Most countries lack basic health systems capacities critical for epidemic and pandemic response.
  7. Coordination and training are inadequate among veterinary, wildlife, and public health professionals and policymakers.
  8. Improving country compliance with international health and security norms is essential.

A Stark Reality

The intention of the Global Health Security Index is to encourage improvements in the planning and response to one of the world’s most omnipresent risks–infectious disease outbreaks. When this report was released in 2019, it revealed that even the highest ranking nations still had gaps to fill in preparing for a pandemic.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. The COVID-19 outbreak has served as a wake-up call to health organizations and governments around the world. Once all of the curves have been flattened, the next version of this report will undoubtedly be viewed with renewed interest.

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Healthcare

Visualizing Global Attitudes Towards the COVID-19 Vaccines

This graphic visualizes global attitudes to vaccines categorized into five segments including anti-vaxxers and COVID cautious.

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Visualizing Global Attitudes Towards COVID-19 Vaccines

View the high-resolution of the infographic by clicking here.

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate? That is the question.

In order to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, some experts believe that between 70% to 80% of a population must be vaccinated.

But attitudes towards these vaccines are undoubtedly mixed. In fact, it’s estimated that one-third of people globally have some major concerns.

Using survey data from eight different countries, Global Web Index created five archetypes to help illustrate how typical attitudes towards vaccines differ depending on a range of factors, such as age, income, lifestyle, and values.

SegmentBreakdownAge SkewGender SkewIncomeVaccine Concerns
Vaccine Supporter66%18-34NoneHigh incomePotential side-effects, availability, and logistics of vaccine distribution.
Vaccines Hesitant12%38-56FemaleLow/Middle incomePotential side-effects specifically due to no long-term testing, cost of vaccine, and more transparency around science required.
Vaccine Obligated11%16-24MaleLow incomePotential side-effects, not sure COVID-19 vaccine is necessary to combat the virus.
Vaccine Skeptical11%45-64FemaleLow incomePotential side-effects, don’t believe vaccines can curtail the pandemic.
Anti-vaxxer1.4% (13% of the Vaccine Skeptical segment)16-24, 55-64MaleLow incomePotential side-effects, don’t believe vaccines in general are safe.

Countries surveyed: United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Brazil, China, India, Japan, and Italy.

Which segment are you most likely to fall under, according to these segments?

Vaccine Supporters

[People who say they will get the COVID-19 vaccine.]

Out of all participants surveyed, 66% of them support the idea of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Within this group, there is a skew towards younger people (aged 18-34) who are likely working professionals earning a high income and living in a city.

Despite their optimism towards COVID-19 vaccines, however, one-third of vaccine supporters say they will wait to get one, due to lingering concerns regarding issues with vaccine distribution and any potential side-effects.

Interestingly, this procrastination mindset has been seen before during the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic when both members of the general public and healthcare workers showed low levels of vaccine acceptance due to safety concerns.

Vaccine Hesitant

[People who are not sure if they will get the COVID-19 vaccine.]

The vaccine hesitant group, which is more common among cautious suburban parents, makes up 12% of the total study. They are more likely to be female, and feel anxious about the length of time spent testing vaccines and therefore require more transparency around the science.

With that being said, this group could be easily swayed, as they are more receptive to word-of-mouth and messaging boards to get advice from their peers over any other medium.

Vaccine Obligated

[People who will only get the vaccine if it’s necessary for travel, school, work etc.]

The vaccine obligated group makes up 11% of the total, and has a skew towards males aged between 16 and 24 years old.

While this group is also concerned with potential side-effects, their responses suggesting that a vaccine may not be necessary to combat COVID-19 was above average compared to other segments in the study. They also index above average when it comes to viewing themselves as traditionalists.

Vaccine Skeptical

[People who won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.]

The vaccine skeptical group makes up another 11% of the total. However, this group is mostly female, who are aged between 45-64 and earn a lower-than-average income. They are less likely to have a college degree, and are more likely to live in a rural area.

Along with the worry of potential side-effects, this group is generally more pessimistic about containing COVID-19 at all. Therefore a small percentage do not believe a vaccine will help tackle the global health crisis.

With notably low trust levels, this group is one of the hardest to reach and potentially persuade. What makes them unique however, is their lack of faith in the scientific process.

Anti-Vaxxers

[People who will not get the vaccine, because they are against vaccines in general.]

It is important to note that those who choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine should not be confused with anti-vaxxers.

Anti-vaxxers are a sub-segment of the vaccine skeptical group that makes up 1.4% of the total population. The difference is, anti-vaxxers do not believe in getting any vaccine due to safety concerns, not just not a vaccine for COVID-19.

According to the study, anti-vaxxers tend to fall into one of two age brackets, between 16-24 years or 55-64 years old, and are typically males with lower incomes.

Another Tool in the Arsenal Against COVID-19

The study demonstrates that broad segments of society—regardless of their demographic or views—are at least somewhat concerned about COVID-19 vaccines becoming widely available.

While scientists are not quite sure if the current vaccines on the market can stop infection or transmission of the virus, they are an important part of our global defenses against COVID-19, along with other safety restrictions like wearing masks and keeping a distance.

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Markets

9 Things Investors Should Know About the Cannabis Industry in 2021

This graphic provides an overview of 9 key developments in the cannabis industry that investors should be aware of going into 2021.

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9 Things Cannabis Investors Should Know in 2021

Unlike dozens of other industries across the globe, cannabis experienced significant growth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, with consumption for both medical and recreational products on the rise, 2020 was a record-breaking year for the industry. After years of investor uncertainty, analysts are predicting a continued bull market in 2021, with several new and exciting developments on the horizon.

Here are nine things cannabis investors need to know.

1. Cannabis Stocks on the Rise

While asset prices took a dip during the initial stage of the COVID-19 outbreak in March, the cannabis sector recovered swiftly after reporting impressive numbers.

Even though cannabis investors have experienced some ups and downs in the last several years, 2021 looks more hopeful.

2. COVID-19 and Cannabis

Cannabis has become an attractive option for people spending more time at home, both as a means of entertainment, and to reduce stress and anxiety associated with the pandemic.

As a result, cannabis sales are soaring. In Canada, monthly sales reached an all-time high of $270 million (CAD) in October 2020, a dramatic increase from $180 million just six months earlier.

3. Cannabis Black Market No More?

For millions of U.S. citizens who live in states where the sale of cannabis is still restricted, the illicit market continues to be their only option.

But with loosening restrictions and legal cannabis becoming more widely available, legal sales are predicted to reach $50 billion by 2026 while illegal sales will plummet to less than $1 billion by the same year.

YearU.S. Legal Cannabis SalesU.S. Illegal Cannabis Sales
2016$6 billion$25 billion
2026$50 billion<$1 billion

4. Political Change Driving Market Growth

Almost 70% of Americans now support the full legalization of cannabis—the highest figure ever recorded.

States where cannabis is legal are now paving the way for cannabis sales, with California expected to pull in over $6 billion by 2021 alone. If federal legalization comes to fruition over the next several years, the already booming U.S. market could see further growth.

5. All Eyes on the European Cannabis Market

The European cannabis market has been on investors’ radar for several years, and with good reason—it is one of the largest cannabis markets in the world.

Driven primarily by medicinal products, the market will be valued at over $39 billion by 2024, with countries like Germany—Europe’s largest economy—leading the way.

In late 2020, the market experienced its biggest breakthrough yet, with the European Union ruling that products containing CBD (one of the most active ingredients in cannabis) are no longer listed as narcotics.

6. Making History in Mexico

Mexico is another market that is piquing the interest of investors and cannabis companies the world over. That’s because it could soon be the third country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis by court order.

With a total addressable market of $2 billion and the potential to support up to 75,000 jobs, these new regulations could change the dynamic of the global market for the better.

7. Most Popular Cannabis Products

Given the flurry of product innovation in the market, consumption of cannabis is quickly changing.

Relatively new products such as edibles and oils are gaining traction, while consumption of flower appears to be declining. This could be due in part to oral products being perceived as a healthier alternative to smoking.

8. CBD Products are Moving into the Mainstream

Although CBD was once considered a niche product that could only be found in dispensaries, growing awareness of the benefits and safety of these products are causing companies operating in the consumer packaged goods industry to take notice.

The cannabis compound is a new addition to a wide range of products such as skincare, makeup, and supplements that can now be purchased almost anywhere—from ecommerce sites to local grocery stores.

9. The New Cannabinoids on the Block

Beyond CBD, scientists have discovered over 100 rare, or minor cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN, that could have even more significant benefits than their major cannabinoid counterparts.

For example, preliminary research shows that CBG could inhibit cancer growth, help treat glaucoma, bladder dysfunction, and kill drug-resistant bacteria.

These discoveries are not only attracting huge attention from the cannabis industry, but from the pharmaceutical industry as well.

Milestones in the Making

With all of these exciting developments coming to the fore, it’s safe to say 2021 could be one of the cannabis industry’s most transformative years to date.

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