Chart of the Week March 12, 2021: The Relevance of Competitiveness & Development to COVID-19 Severity in ASEAN


Of the eight ASEAN Member States where deaths have been reported, Singapore has the lowest case fatality rate despite having the highest number of cumulative COVID-19 cases per million population. Malaysia and Thailand also note comparatively lower case fatality rates despite having higher proportions of elderly in the population. Asia Competitiveness Institute (ACI)’s Annual ASEAN Competitiveness Index was found to be useful in understanding this phenomenon. This week’s chart demonstrates usage of the index and shares key research findings.  


  • Designed to provide a holistic appraisal of the competitive potential of the ASEAN member states, the index includes dimensions such as the effectiveness of government institutions, policy, and the quality of the healthcare system relevant to the capacity of an economy to adapt to shocks.  
  • In using the results of the index to conduct analyses on the pandemic, it was found that even with data limited to 2017, the index was reflective of the ASEAN members states’ abilities to limit the impact of the pandemic.  
  • Specifically, better performance in the Government and Institutional Setting (GIS) and Quality of Life and Infrastructure Development (QLID) environment rankings are demonstrated in the charts to positively correlate to reduced case fatality rates. The findings are consistent with academic literature which finds that an effective government response policy and quality of infrastructure are key to successful containment of pandemics.  


Inglesby, Thomas V., Jennifer B. Nuzzo, Tara O’Toole, and D. A. Henderson. 2006. “Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza.” Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science 4 (4): 366–75.

Liang, Li-Lin, Ching-Hung Tseng, Hsiu J. Ho, and Chun-Ying Wu. 2020. “Covid-19 Mortality Is Negatively Associated with Test Number and Government Effectiveness.” Scientific Reports 10 (1): 12567.

Article by TAN, Kway Guan

Graphic By Shu En LEE

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