Belgium had the worst response to the coronavirus crisis out of OECD countries, while New Zealand’s response was the strongest, according to a new ranking.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on Wednesday published an index that rated how well governments across 21 member states had reacted to the pandemic.
Each country was given an overall score out of four.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is a cohort of 37 member states that works together to shape policies around socioeconomic issues. In its report, the EIU analyzed the responses of 21 of those countries to the health crisis.
Economists finalized the scores by weighing three risk factors — obesity prevalence, share of the population over the age of 65 and international arrivals — against three “quality of response” indicators, which were testing, provision of non-Covid 19 health care, and death rates from the virus.
With an overall rating of 2.11, which fell into the “poor” threshold, Belgium was ranked at the bottom of the index.
Despite receiving the highest possible score for its testing capacity, Belgium was given the lowest score for its death rate. To date, 9,663 people in Belgium have died of Covid-19, making it the country with the highest death rate per capita in the world, according to Our World in Data.
The country has faced controversy throughout the crisis. Officials have been accused of overcounting deaths from the coronavirus, and health-care workers in the country famously turned their backs on their prime minister during a hospital visit in protest against the government’s handling of the crisis.
Sophie Wilmes, Belgium’s prime minister, later told Belgian broadcaster RTBF she wanted to bring “a message of appeasement” to hospital staff.
She has also said the country chose to report Covid-19 deaths with “full transparency” — even if it has led to overinflated numbers. Meanwhile, Health Minister Maggie De Block defended the government’s methods of counting deaths, claiming Belgium has “the most detailed method” in Europe.