The study, which places New Zealand first (with a 'score' of 94.4 out of 100), Vietnam second and Taiwan third, gives Portugal a score of 38.9, just below countries like Canada and Israel.

After Portugal come countries like Belgium (35.6), France (34.9), Russia (32) and Spain (31.2).

The United States (17.3), Iran (15.9), Colombia (7.7), Mexico (6.5) and Brazil (4.3) are the countries with the worst responses to the pandemic, indicated the same study.

The study did not include China because it considered that it did not have enough data, according to the institute.

The data, updated to 9 January, focused on numbers of confirmed cases and deaths, both in absolute figures and per million population, the number of tests and the number of cases confirmed by tests.

A high mortality rate when compared with the number of tests performed, for example, was negatively weighted for the study.

An average of these indicators was then calculated and transformed into a 'score' of zero to 100 values.

The authors of the study looked at several country characteristics to see whether aspects such as population size or economic development had an impact on the response to the pandemic.

Smaller countries with populations of less than ten million people "consistently outperformed their larger counterparts" throughout the year, even though this difference was less marked in the final straight of the period studied.

As far as economic capacity is concerned, the study found it "not surprising that countries with higher 'per capita' incomes have more resources to fight the pandemic", so on average they perform better than developing countries.

Low technology' measures such as 'lockdowns', the study noted, "may have created a level playing field between developed and developing countries in managing Covid-19".

Now, however, in the process of vaccination, the authors stressed that richer countries may have "a decisive advantage in crisis recovery efforts, leaving poorer countries to fight the pandemic longer.