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:
Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens
- Detection and Reporting
Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern
- Rapid Response
Capability of rapidly responding to and mitigating the spread of an epidemic
- Health System
Sufficient and robust and health system to treat the sick and protect health workers
- Compliance with Global Norms
Compliance with international norms by improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps
- Risk Environment
Risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats
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:
|Rank||Country||GHS Index Score|
|#1||🇺🇸 United States||83.5|
|#2||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||77.9|
|#9||🇰🇷 South Korea||70.2|
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.
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.
- National health security is fundamentally weak globally. No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.
- Countries are not prepared for a globally catastrophic biological event.
- There is little evidence that most countries have tested important health security capacities or shown that they would be functional in a crisis.
- Most countries have not allocated funding from national budgets to fill identified preparedness gaps.
- More than half of countries face major political and security risks that could undermine national capability to combat biological threats.
- Most countries lack basic health systems capacities critical for epidemic and pandemic response.
- Coordination and training are inadequate among veterinary, wildlife, and public health professionals and policymakers.
- 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.
Visualizing the Countries Most Reliant on Tourism
With international travel grinding to a halt, here are the economies that have the most to lose from a lack of tourism.
Visualizing the Countries Most Reliant on Tourism
Without a steady influx of tourism revenue, many countries could face severe economic damage.
As the global travel and tourism industry stalls, the spillover effects to global employment are wide-reaching. A total of 330 million jobs are supported by this industry around the world, and it contributes 10%, or $8.9 trillion to global GDP each year.
Today’s infographic uses data from the World Travel & Tourism Council, and it highlights the countries that depend the most on the travel and tourism industry according to employment—quantifying the scale that the industry contributes to the health of the global economy.
Worldwide, 44 countries rely on the travel and tourism industry for more than 15% of their total share of employment. Unsurprisingly, many of the countries suffering the most economic damage are island nations.
At the same time, data reveals the extent to which certain larger nations rely on tourism. In New Zealand, for example, 479,000 jobs are generated by the travel and tourism industry, while in Cambodia tourism contributes to 2.4 million jobs.
|Rank||Country||T&T Share of Jobs (2019)||T&T Jobs (2019)||Population|
|1||Antigua & Barbuda||91%||33,800||97,900|
|4||US Virgin Islands||69%||28,800||104,400|
|7||St. Kitts & Nevis||59%||14,100||53,200|
|8||British Virgin Islands||54%||5,500||30,200|
|11||St. Vincent & the Grenadines||45%||19,900||110,900|
|14||Former Netherlands Antilles||41%||25,700||26,200|
|28||Sao Tome and Principe||23%||14,500||219,200|
Croatia, another tourist hotspot, is hoping to reopen in time for peak season—the country generated tourism revenues of $13B in 2019. With a population of over 4 million, travel and tourism contributes to 25% of its workforce.
How the 20 Largest Economies Stack Up
Tourist-centric countries remain the hardest hit from global travel bans, but the world’s biggest economies are also feeling the impact.
In Spain, tourism ranks as the third highest contributor to its economy. If lockdowns remain in place until September, it is projected to lose $68 billion (€62 billion) in revenues.
|Rank||Country||Travel and Tourism, Contribution to GDP|
On the other hand, South Korea is impacted the least: just 2.8% of its GDP is reliant on tourism.
Which countries earn the most from the travel and tourism industry in absolute dollar terms?
Topping the list was the U.S., with tourism contributing over $1.8 trillion to its economy, or 8.6% of its GDP in 2019. The U.S. remains a global epicenter for COVID-19 cases, and details remain unconfirmed if the country will reopen to visitors before summer.
Meanwhile, the contribution of travel and tourism to China’s economy has more than doubled over the last decade, approaching $1.6 trillion. To help bolster economic activity, China and South Korea have eased restrictions by establishing a travel corridor.
As countries slowly reopen, other travel bubbles are beginning to make headway. For example, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have eased travel restrictions by creating an established travel zone. Australia and New Zealand have a similar arrangement on the horizon. These travel bubbles allow citizens from each country to travel within a given zone.
Of course, COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on employment and global economic activity with inconceivable outcomes. When the dust finally settles, could global tourism face a reckoning?
Zoom is Now Worth More Than the World’s 7 Biggest Airlines
Zoom benefits from the COVID-19 virtual transition—but other industries aren’t as lucky. The app is now more valuable than the world’s seven largest airlines.
Zoom Is Now Worth More Than The 7 Biggest Airlines
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have transitioned to working—and socializing—from home. If these trends become the new normal, certain companies may be in for a big payoff.
Popular video conferencing company, Zoom Communications, is a prime example of an organization benefiting from this transition. Today’s graphic, inspired by Lennart Dobravsky at Lufthansa Innovation Hub, is a dramatic look at how much Zoom’s valuation has shot up during this unusual period in history.
The Zoom Boom, in Perspective
As of May 15, 2020, Zoom’s market capitalization has skyrocketed to $48.8 billion, despite posting revenues of only $623 million over the past year.
What separates Zoom from its competition, and what’s led to the app’s massive surge in mainstream business culture?
Industry analysts say that business users have been drawn to the app because of its easy-to-use interface and user experience, as well as the ability to support up to 100 participants at a time. The app has also blown up among educators for use in online learning, after CEO Eric Yuan took extra steps to ensure K-12 schools could use the platform for free.
Zoom meeting participants have skyrocketed in past months, going from 10 million in December 2019 to a whopping 300 million as of April 2020.
The Airline Decline
The airline industry has been on the opposite end of fortune, suffering an unprecedented plummet in demand as international restrictions have shuttered airports:
The world’s top airlines by revenue have fallen in total value by 62% since the end of January:
|Airline||Market Cap Jan 31, 2020||Market Cap May 15, 2020|
|International Airlines Group||$14.760B||$4.111B|
|Total Market Cap||$121.301B||$46.214B|
Source: YCharts. All market capitalizations listed as of May 15, 2020.
With countries scrambling to contain the spread of COVID-19, many airlines have cut travel capacity, laid off workers, and chopped executive pay to try and stay afloat.
If and when regular air travel will return remains a major question mark, and even patient investors such as Warren Buffett have pulled out from airline stocks.
|Airline||% Change in Total Returns (Jan 31-May 15, 2020)|
|International Airlines Group||-72.16%|
Source: YCharts, as of May 15, 2020.
The world has changed for the airlines. The future is much less clear to me about how the business will turn out.
What Does the Future Hold?
Zoom’s recent success is a product of its circumstances, but will it last? That’s a question on the mind of many investors and pundits ahead of the company’s Q1 results to be released in June.
It hasn’t been all smooth-sailing for the company—a spate of “Zoom Bombing” incidents, where uninvited people hijacked meetings, brought the app’s security measures under scrutiny. However, the company remained resilient, swiftly providing support to combat the problem.
Meanwhile, as many parts of the world begin taking measures to restart economic activity, airlines could see a cautious return to the skies—although any such recovery will surely be a “slow, long ascent”.
Correction: Changed the graphics to reflect 300 million daily active “meeting participants” as opposed to daily active users.
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