Which countries have beaten COVID-19?

A photo of a snow-covered mountain in New Zealand, one of the countries to beat Covid-19
Photo via Pedro Szekely/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: July 19, 2021

When it comes to dealing with the global coronavirus pandemic, some countries are handling things better than others. To date, there are about 30 countries that have performed well, according to the website EndCoronavirus. So, which countries have beaten COVID-19—at least so far?

Describing itself as a “volunteer coalition of over 4,000 scientists, community organizers, business owners, and individuals,” EndCoronavirus collates a massive amount of coronavirus data and classifies countries and regions according to how well they are handling the pandemic. “Green countries” are those that are considered to have successfully contained, or are close to containing, the virus. This is evidenced by a maintained rate of zero or near-zero new coronavirus cases per day.

The 33 countries listed in the green zone which have beaten COVID-19 as of June 7 include: Albania, Andorra, Barbados, Bhutan, Bosnia, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Djibouti, Dominica, Holy See, Iceland, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, and Vanuatu.

The New York Times proclaimed in February that China “beat the virus and roared back,” and the Atlantic proclaimed Bhutan the “unlikeliest pandemic success story.” Singapore used effective contact tracing and stimulus packages for businesses to help get it through the pandemic, and by April 2021, it was preparing for a travel bubble with Hong Kong.

In Barbados, “aggressive messaging campaigns” for the public have been one reason why the country has had its success, and, for travelers coming into the country for much of the pandemic, Dominica has required rapid testing when you arrive.

According to EndCoronavirus’s criteria, green-zone rankings are based on the absolute number of cases in a specific region, rather than per capita cases. As explained in the site’s FAQ, “When it comes to eliminating the virus, the number of new cases per day must be zero. The fraction of the population that is infected is not what matters. If a country has 100 new cases per day, that provides many routes for the virus to spread. It does not matter whether the population is 1,000,000 or 10,000,000.”

In December, researchers wrote that by “implementing a strict and early lockdown in New Zealand rapidly reduced multiple chains of virus transmission.” As a result, New Zealand partnered with Australia in a travel bubble beginning April 19, and Australia was also looking at a travel partnership with Singapore.

But Australia also isn’t planning on reopening its borders to other countries until 2022, and that means Americans can’t travel there for the foreseeable future. In late January 2021, New Zealand had basically the same plan as Australia.

Though Australia is doing great with the pandemic, it’s had to acknowledge that, because of the issues surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine, it won’t meet its goal of vaccinating all of its citizens by the end of 2021 (and in July, Sydney went back under lockdown after a number of delta variant cases were found and then ended up deporting a far-right British activist who ignored the country’s quarantine rules).

But it also shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the richest countries are doing the best when it comes to getting vaccines into people’s arms.

In contrast, red countries are nations with increasing coronavirus numbers, steady infection numbers, or numbers that are diminishing at a slow rate. For most of the pandemic, the U.S. was a red country, as of May 2021, it had slipped into the “countries that are nearly there” category.

The U.S. has reported more than 33.3 million cases and about 600,000 deaths so far, as vaccines continue to roll out across the country (the CDC now says vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks in most cases).

How long will it take countries to beat COVID-19?

EndCoronavirus has many resources and strategies advising what can be done to reach zero new coronavirus cases and which would allow countries to beat COVID-19, but most are things we already know: strict lockdown protocols, strict travel restrictions, massive testing, and masks. “Things will get worse before they get better, but we can win by anticipating it and going all out,” the site reads. “Once we do, we can stop it in five weeks.”

Read more coronavirus travel news:

Sources: EndCoronavirus, Nature, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

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