The 10 most valuable passports money can buy if you want access to a country that handled the COVID-19 pandemic effectively
The wealthy have been snapping up second passports during the coronavirus pandemic to get around travel restrictions and seek refuge in countries that have handled COVID-19 effectively.
Thirty one countries around the world offer residency - or citizenship-by-investment programs, which range in cost from $100,000 to more than $7 million.
A new report from Deep Knowledge Analytics and Henley & Partners called the Investment Migration Programs Health Risk Assessment ranks these countries by how effectively they've handled the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The notion that health, rather than wealth, is the most valuable asset class, will see the ascendance of regions that promote both individual and institutional migration and relocation on the basis of prioritizing well-being, rather than capital," Dmitry Kaminskiy, cofounder of Deep Knowledge Group, said in a press release.
The assessment looked at six factors: the government's efficiency in risk management, quarantine efficiency, monitoring and detection of the virus, health readiness, regional resilience, and emergency preparedness. Henley & Global also partnered with academics and professional experts to provide insights on various regions' responses.
Notably, the list is not the same as the Henley Passport Index's annual ranking of passports' strength based on how many countries a holder can gain visa-free access to.
Here are the top 10 countries where the wealthy can invest in citizenship while feeling safer from COVID-19, in descending order.
10. The United Kingdom
The UK ranked highly in government efficiency and quarantine efficiency in the assessment.
It has imposed strict lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus and was the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer- BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in December.
Italy, which was the first Western country to impose a coronavirus lockdown, ranked highly in the areas of quarantine efficiency and government efficiency.
8. Hong Kong
While Hong Kong has done a decent job containing the coronavirus, potential investors should consider the geopolitical issues that wouldn't be captured in a health risk assessment of migration programs, Curtis S. Chin, a former US Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, wrote in the report.
Singapore's world-class health facilities and the 900 rapid response public health preparedness clinics it opened after the 2002 SARS-CoV outbreak made it ready to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, Chin wrote.
The city-state's contact tracing app has been downloaded by 42% of the population, per the report.
6. United Arab Emirates
The UAE ranked first in emergency preparedness. The country reacted quickly to the pandemic with its monitoring and detection and now has one of the world's highest vaccination rates, according to Robert Mogielnicki, a resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington DC.
Austria ranked second overall in terms of government efficiency of risk management. The country provides its citizens with mandatory universal health insurance that guarantees essential healthcare to all, Varun Sharma, the former Global Head of Partnerships for the Estonian Government's e-Residency program, wrote for the assessment.
Switzerland scored higher than any other country in healthcare readiness. Like Austria, it has mandatory universal health insurance and also implemented effective contact tracing technology, Sharma wrote.
Australia, which closed its borders early in the pandemic, ranked second overall in quarantine efficiency. Its leaders made public health decisions based on data and were effective in building trust with citizens, according to Chin.
2. New Zealand
New Zealand, which went into lockdown in March of last year and has kept its borders closed ever since, scored the highest of any country for quarantine efficiency.
"When it comes to handling the pandemic, high-income economy New Zealand under the leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shown the way not just for the region but for the world," Chin wrote in the report.
New Zealand also implemented rigorous contact tracing measures, Chin wrote.
As of March 23, 2021, it had reported only 2,112 COVID-19 cases and 26 deaths.
Canada never contained the virus like New Zealand and its citizenship-by-investment doesn't particularly stand out, according to Greg Lindsay, Director of Applied Research at New Cities.
"Instead, it simply persevered, with a death rate that's middling globally but is less than half of that of its larger neighbour," Lindsay wrote, adding that the government has shamed anti-maskers and mostly succeeded in uniting its citizens behind its pandemic response.
Source: Business Insider