How did COVID-19 Affect the Development of the 2021 GHS Index?
  • Analysis
  • December 8, 2021

The world will be assessing the factors that contributed to the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic for years to come. GHS Index team members took stock of the current information and thinking about what factors mattered most in responding to the virus as they developed the 2021 GHS Index framework, researched the data, and analyzed the results.

The United States and the United Kingdom were previously ranked #1 and #2, respectively; however, with the updated framework and, therefore, scoring, the overall score for the United States decreased between 2019 and 2021, although not as severely as the score for the United Kingdom. The United States had losses in planning for zoonotic disease, which was offset by gains in immunization. The United States also had increases in surveillance data availability and transparency, case-based investigation, and exercising response plans. However, the United States score decreased in the areas of risk communication, trade and travel restrictions, and political and security risks.

The gains that were made by the United Kingdom in the detection category were offset by large losses in the health systems category. Although progress was made in laboratory strengthening, case-based investigation, exercising response plans, risk communication, and healthcare capacity, the United Kingdom slid down in its score on cross-border agreements, trade and travel restrictions, JEE and Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS), and environmental risks.

The GHS Index framework has evolved on the basis of this work, and 31 questions were added to address laboratory strength and quality, supply chains, national-level policies and plans, and government effectiveness. As a result, scores and rankings are available for each country for 2021, and new scores and rankings have been calculated for each country for 2019, based on public information that was available through 2019, using the updated framework. Those modifications allow for the 2021 and 2019 data to be directly compared to assess progress made by countries over the past two years.

With the framework updates and back calculations of 2019 data, countries now have adjusted 2019 scores and rankings. Future editions of the GHS Index also will evolve as the availability of reliable global data to track the spread and impact of COVID-19 improves and additional studies are conducted.