Appendix A: The Global COVID-19 Index (GCI)

What is the GCI?

GCI is the world’s first holistic and comprehensive index on COVID-19. It rates and ranks countries based on how well they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a fully data-driven and objective approach designed to assist decision-makers with critical decisions in the fight against COVID-19.

There are other trackers and indexes out there; what makes the GCI unique?

The index is set apart through its comprehensive assessment of the true severity and recovery progress of these countries; it considers relevant metrics such as socio-economic factors and the strength of their healthcare systems, and normalises for differing population sizes.

Its proprietary algorithm processes approximately 3,000 data points daily, pulling together metrics from well-recognised and validated open-source databases on governance and public healthcare.

The GCI is poised to be a singular holistic source of data that can facilitate informed decision-making for governments in the fight against COVID-19. The GCI stands apart from other indexes because:

  1. The GCI is the most comprehensive and holistic index on COVID-19; apart from its own proprietary elements, it pulls together acknowledged elements from other available indices globally.
  2. The GCI has global coverage; it rates and ranks 184 countries.
  3. The GCI is based on data and updated daily to reflect any changes in the global landscape.
  4. The GCI can be instructive to governments, helping them make decisions on when or how they can lift restrictions.
  5. The GCI can also be helpful to the private sector, serving as an indicator as to when regular operations might resume, or when they should prepare a mitigation plan.

What does the GCI measure?

The GCI comprises two different indexes:

The GCI Severity Index measures how severe the situation is in a country, given its healthcare system’s ability to contain and cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. It considers several parameters:

The following key dynamic parameters contribute 70 per cent of the GCI Severity Index:

  • Number of confirmed cases per population
  • Number of proportionate deaths as a result of COVID-19 over crude deaths

The remaining 30 per cent consist of static scores derived from the Global Health Security (GHS) Index:

  • GHS Category 1 (Preventing the emergence or release of pathogens)
  • GHS Sub-category 6.5 (Public health vulnerabilities)

The GCI Recovery Index measures a country’s current progress in handling the pandemic and indicates how well it is doing from a health and safety perspective. It considers eight parameters:

The following key dynamic parameters contribute 70 per cent of the GCI Recovery Index:

  • Number of recoveries per confirmed cases
  • Number of active cases per population
  • Number of tests per confirmed cases
  • Number of tests per population

The remaining 30 per cent consist of static scores derived from the GHS Index:

  • GHS Category 2 (Early detection & reporting of epidemics)
  • GHS Category 3 (Rapid response to mitigate the spread of an epidemic)
  • GHS Category 4 (Health infrastructure and system to treat the sick and protect health workers)

From the above, only the GHS Index categories are static indicators. The dynamic algorithm processes the live data for 70 per cent of the final calculations, allowing the GCI to employ continuously evolving metrics.

Which are the most important factors used to gauge severity/recovery?

In order to see how severe the situation is in a given country, we have found that the key is tracking the number of proportionate deaths attributed to COVID-19. This gives a clear idea of how many additional fatalities the country must contend with in comparison to their normal mortality rates, the latter of which already take into consideration the population as well as the healthcare system’s ability to cope with the outbreak.

To gauge recovery, we have found that focusing on the number of active cases per population is a crucial factor in estimating if a country is recovering well or not. The number of recoveries a day is a good measure, but knowing how many more patients are still in treatment can give a better estimate on when a country has truly flattened the curve.

A country’s willingness and ongoing efforts to invest in large scale testing is also factored into the GCI Recovery Index and gives a strong indicator of the preparedness of the country to handle any possible recurrence of the pandemic.

How is the GCI useful to governments?

The GCI is designed to assist countries in managing the COVID-19 pandemic – mitigating its severity and planning for their recovery from the crisis. It can help governments answer the key questions of when and how they should impose or relax their lockdowns with minimal guessing. It can also indicate when heavier measures may be needed to reinforce their healthcare system’s capacity. With its global rating system, it can help answer the key question of what measures appear to be working or not working for countries around the world. From there, best practices can be derived and considered for countries with similar demographic, healthcare and socio-economic parameters.

Aside from that, the index can help governments:

  • Improve border controls by highlighting countries who may be farther along the road to recovery or, conversely, those who are getting worse
  • Identify countries who are ready to lift restrictions and resume normal trading arrangements
  • Set up an early warning system for targeted intervention support to help countries who are at higher risk of being overwhelmed (based on a steadily increasing severity score)
  • Estimate the timelines to lockdowns realistically, enabling a timely management of the economy

How is the GCI useful to the private sector?

Businesses would benefit from knowing where their base country is on the severity-recovery scale. For countries who are on the road to recovery, knowing this can help business owners prepare to resume operations. For countries who are still far from recovery or may be struggling, the index can help businesses prepare their mitigation plan over an expected timeline.

In addition, a country’s performance on the index serves as a good indicator of how well they can manage such crises. Their stability is a factor for businesses deciding whether to enter into the market.

What are the datasets used in developing the GCI?

The GCI currently processes approximately 3,000 data points daily, leveraging upon recognised open sources from independent institutions in the space of governance and public healthcare analysis. It is also based on published government data that has been made publicly available and is updated regularly. We review the methodology of each data source in detail to ensure that the data generated is accurate and reflective of the current situation.

Sources include:

  • Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University
  • The Global Health Security Index 2019
  • Our World in Data
  • The Oxford Coronavirus Government Response Tracker, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford
  • The United States Census Bureau
  • United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  • World Bank
  • World Health Organisation

The GCI is a composite of relevant metrics on COVID-19 from healthcare to socio-economic factors, making it a holistic indicator of the true severity and recovery status of a country. It can also indicate when countries can lift restrictions or implement heavier measures against the pandemic. Compared to other individual data trackers, the GCI encapsulates numerous data points into a single figure, making it useful for high-level assessment.

To date, the GCI has been enhanced with selected components of University of Oxford’s Coronavirus Government Response Tracker to provide an indicative recommendation for each country based on the WHO’s defined criteria for lifting lockdowns.

Aside from country ranking, what are the other features of the GCI?

The GCI Stringency Score is applied based on selected Oxford Containment and Closure Policy Indicators. It provides a breakdown of detailed measures for Containment and Closure Policies and Health System Policies.

The World Health Organisation’s Six Criteria Checks on Lifting Restrictions assess a country’s ability to adhere to the main guidelines of lifting lockdowns. The GCI has built-in analytical and logical checks to determine if a country has satisfied one or more of the six criteria. The data is derived from a combination of GCI analysis and Oxford Stringency Sub-Indicators. Specifically, these six main criteria for lifting lockdowns by the WHO are:

  1. Transmission Control
  2. Detection, Track and Trace
  3. Outbreak Minimisation
  4. Workplace Preventive Measures
  5. Export/Import Case Risk Management
  6. Public Awareness

The Country of Interest Detector enables policy makers to observe trends in active cases, the GCI Recovery Index and the GCI Severity Index. This index shows the 30-day movements in these variables for all countries and can highlight potential countries of interest, be it for best practices or for potential outbreak monitoring.

Visual Interactive Maps available on the GCI Microsite Recovery and Severity Index Maps enable users to visually track countries and regions that are recovering or significantly affected based on population size and efforts undertaken to manage COVID-19.

Lockdown and Indicative Recommendations on Relaxing Restrictions Maps gives a quick glance into the strictness of containment and closure methods currently employed by various countries. It enables a visual tracking of countries that maintain closed borders regardless of the recovery progress made. It also shows which countries are recommended to relax stringent measures based on the guidelines set by the WHO.

The Global Infection Trend tracks the global progress made in flattening the COVID-19 curve.

Country Comparison Matrix visualisation allows countries to compare themselves against others experiencing a similar severity level, but who are at a different point of recovery. It also enables countries to see if they are making daily progress towards positive recovery.

Ranking of Countries by Recovery Index is a daily ranking of countries from the perspective of recovery. It allows individual countries to be quickly searched to see their relative rankings.

The GCI Open Data contains data which has been analysed by the GCI following consultations with recognised academics, medical professionals and epidemiologists who have provided constructive feedback into the GCI. It allows users to compare ranking of parameters not commonly aggregated for 184 countries and possibilities to determine correlation and regression analyses.

The Country Dashboard is generated by a GCI-developed tool to match countries based on similar characteristics such as population, population density, income and climate.

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