First Place

A Failed Response

Ezra Acayan
Getty Images
Philippines

Despite remaining under the world's longest lockdown for most of 2021, the Philippines still experienced one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Southeast Asia. Millions went hungry and jobless as businesses closed, and those infected struggled to get beds in hospitals. Healthcare workers have resigned out of fear and exhaustion as they bear the brunt of what critics say is a failed pandemic response. The government has been heavily criticized for its sluggish vaccination campaigns, overly militarized solutions, and corruption of billions in pandemic response funds.

Ezra Acayan is a photojournalist based in the Philippines with a decade of experience covering politics, climate change, and social injustice. Since 2019, he has regularly worked on assignment for Getty Images. In 2017, together with a team of Reuters journalists, he was awarded a special merit at the Human Rights Press Awards for multimedia reporting on the Philippines’ drug war. In 2018, he received grants from both the Ian Parry Scholarship and the Lucie Foundation, as well as being named Young Photographer of the Year at the Istanbul Photo Awards. In 2019, he received a World Press Photo Award in the Spot News category. In 2021, he was awarded a World Press Photo Award in the Nature Stories category for his work on Taal volcano’s eruption, and — together with a team of Getty Images photojournalists covering the global outbreak of COVID-19 — was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography for his work. In the same year he was also named Photographer of the Year at the inaugural Pictures of the Year Asia, and received several more awards from Picture of the Year International (POYi), National Press Photographers Association, and the Society of Publishers Asia. He has done work for various outfits such as Getty Images, Reuters, European Pressphoto Agency, and Agence France-Presse; and institutions such as the World Bank, Agence Française de Développement, African Development Bank, and French Red Cross, among others.
[ COVID PICTURE STORY ] A multiple-picture story, essay, sequence or series based on daily coverage of general news or breaking news related to COVID-19. Each submission consists of 10 to 20 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 3 submissions. All images must be taken in 2020 or 2021.
Judges for Covid Picture Story
Anush Babajanyan
Liang-Pin Tsao
Nyimas Laula
Samuel He
Jean Chung
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