Ireland has been named the best country to be in as the world learns to live through the coronavirus pandemic, topping the latest Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking.
In its monthly report published on Tuesday the news agency noted Ireland had been “steadily climbing” the rankings since the beginning of the year when it had experienced the worst outbreak in the world.
It noted a "startling turnaround" and national vaccination rates among the highest globally. Ireland took the top position from Norway, while European countries remain dominant in the higher rankings.
"Even as the peak summer travel season unfolded alongside delta's spread, Ireland and places like Spain, the Netherlands and Finland held down serious illness and deaths through pioneering moves to largely limit quarantine-free entry to immunised people," the report said.
“Bestowing more domestic freedoms on the inoculated helped boost vaccination levels to some of the highest in the world - over 90 per cent of Ireland’s adult population has received two shots - while allowing social activity to resume safely.”
Responding in a social media post, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the result was down to the hard work of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Irish public.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the same resilience would see Ireland on a safe path to recovery coming into the autumn.
“Time and again you did the right thing. You listened to us and worked with us on Covid restrictions and coming forward for your vaccine,” he said on Twitter.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid noted "really tough times" met by a coherent and cohesive response.
The top spot may be seen as something of a boon to a population fatigued by ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and a pandemic that has upended normal life.
As politicians and health officials welcomed the result on Tuesday, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) reported a further 1,499 cases of the virus in the State. As of early morning, 300 people were being treated in hospital, 63 of whom were in intensive care units.
Bloomberg described its ranking system as a monthly snapshot of where it is being handled the most effectively, with the least social and economic upheaval.
Results across 53 economies are based on 12 indicators including virus containment, quality of healthcare, vaccination coverage, overall mortality and progress toward restarting travel.
The top five ranked countries are Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark.
There are also negative findings. The delta variant has left the US “reeling”, it found, with the world’s largest economy dropping three spaces to 28 during September “as unfettered normalisation, regardless of vaccination status” drove new cases aggressively upward.
Southeast Asian economies continue to fare the worst with Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines in the bottom five positions. And while once the “gold standard” for virus containment, the Asia-Pacific region has been found faltering in the era of vaccination.
Ireland may be buoyed by the latest results but Bloomberg’s data also comes with warnings for the future.
“What’s increasingly apparent is that the pandemic is far from over-for some more than others,” it said, in reference to vaccine inequality. “With so many countries barely inoculated, the risk of another destructive variant emerging has never been higher.”