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Thailand ranks fourth in Covid-19 response

Thailand’s success in containing the coronavirus pandemic has earned it fourth place in a global ranking by an Australian think tank.

Overall, Asia-Pacific nations have been the most successful at containing the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Sydney-based Lowy Institute.

Lowly used publicly available data to evaluate and rank 97 countries and a region in their coronavirus response in the 36 weeks that followed their 100th confirmed case.

Notably, China was not included in the ranking due to what the think tank said was a “lack of publicly available data on testing”.

Fourteen-day rolling averages were calculated for six criteria: confirmed cases, confirmed deaths, confirmed cases per million people, confirmed cases as a proportion of tests and tests per 1,000 people.

Data from the six criteria were calculated into a score between zero and 100, with higher scores indicating a better pandemic response.

Top-ranked New Zealand received an average score of 94.4, followed by Vietnam’s 90.8. Taiwan and Thailand followed at 86.4 and 84.2, respectively.

Japan scored 50.1 to rank 45th, outperformed by its close neighbour South Korea, which ranked 20th.

Britain, which recently recorded its 100,000th death due to the pandemic, ranked 66th on 37.5 points, and the United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths, came to 94th out of 98 with a score of 17.3.

In general, the think tank’s analysis found economic status had little overall impact on a countries’ response. Although higher per capita income countries had more resources to fight the pandemic, developing countries had more lead time to impose preventative measures.

Conversely, researchers found population size revealed the greatest difference in responses with smaller countries of fewer than 10 million people “consistently outperform(ing) their larger counterparts throughout 2020”.

“In general, countries with smaller populations, cohesive societies, and capable institutions have a comparative advantage in dealing with a global crisis such as a pandemic,” the Lowy Institute said.

Meanwhile, authorities will continue to study the efficacy of a local herb in treating Covid-19 patients after promising results during a trial.

The second phase of the study aims to confirm whether the herb, whose scientific name is andrographis paniculata and known as “fah talai jone”, is efficient in treating the patients, according to the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine and three other agencies.

Department director-general Amporn Benjaponpitak said on Thursday the study would also find whether the herbal extract was safe to use on Covid-19 patients alongside standard treatment methods.

After Covid-19 re-emerged in mid-December last year, the department and Samut Prakan Hospital jointly conducted a pilot study on the use of fah talai jone extracts to treat six patients.

Initial results showed their conditions had improved on the third day after a daily intake of the extracts containing 180mg of andrographolide. Their symptoms such as cough, sore throat, phlegm, runny nose, muscle pain and headache gradually improved. No side effects were found — their liver and kidneys functioned normally.

Dr Amporn said the positive results had encouraged the department, Samut Prakan Hospital, the Department of Medical Sciences and the Government Pharmaceutical Organization to continue the study in its second phase.


Top: Globe in a medical mask, a world danger concept image. Photo: Marco Verch Professional Photographer(CC BY 2.0)

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