Malaysia Launches World's 1st Index To Track COVID-19 Pandemic Control

The Global COVID-19 Index aims to comprehensively evaluate the true severity and recovery progress of each country.

Cover image via Alyssa Pong/SAYS

On 4 June, Malaysia launched the world's first comprehensive, data-based pandemic response tracker, Global COVID-19 Index (GCI)

It is a publicly available website that processes approximately 3,000 points of data daily from verified open-source databases, such as the the World Bank and the Global Health Security Index, to accurately rank 184 countries based on how well they are coping with the pandemic. 

The GCI assesses the true severity and recovery progress of countries based on factors including a country's healthcare system and other socio-economic factors.

At the time of writing, Malaysia ranked 15th among 184 countries in recovery rates. 

Ranking of countries by Recovery Index.

Image via Global COVID-19 Index

Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin hopes that the GCI will help governments around the world make informed decisions about how best to face the pandemic

In his keynote speech, the minister discussed the importance of the GCI in deploying an effective and globally coordinated response.

"While there are varying degrees of severity and recovery across the world, no one country has managed to get everything right," he said.

With the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) collaborating with local and international experts from Universiti Malaya, Akademi Sains Malaysia, the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and the World Health Organization (WHO), and referring to global databases, Khairy notes how the GCI could act as a singular yet comprehensive point of reference

The website contains graphs and lists reflecting recovery and severity rates

It also has colour-coded maps which depict whether a country can safely relax its restrictions based on the WHO's six requirements and calculations made using the collected data.  

This, Khairy says, can help guide the actions of governments, universities, and research institutes, as well as the private sector.

Global infection trend.

Image via Global COVID-19 Index

Restriction relaxation level map.

Image via Global COVID-19 Index

Khairy also spoke of the need for greater collaboration across the globe

As part of his opening speech, the minister said, "While we have been focused on saving lives within our respective borders, we now need to reach out and share what each country has learnt so that we can create an internationally crowdsource playbook of best practices in handling the pandemic."

This, he adds, is why the GCI was created.

"The partnership [between the MOSTI and PEMUDA Associates] will aim to make the GCI a catalyst to enhance international cooperation and research against all pandemics. This is Malaysia's humble commitment to the fight against COVID-19."

Following the launch of the GCI, it was announced that MOSTI will also be working on an in-depth qualitative analysis of best practices (of coping with COVID-19) around the world. Khairy hopes this project, called the Global Pathfinder Initiative, will be publicly available with the approval of participating governments.

The minister ended the presentation with an urgent plea

"Apart from sharing the GCI with you tonight, the message that we would like to send is that we need to build a global alliance of international organisations, governments, cooperations, civil society organisations, and individuals, to commit to open science and push for the vaccine to be a global public good that would be made available openly and equitably."

Technology has been integral in the fight against COVID-19. This tracking app is one example:

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