Lost track of responses to Covid-19? University of Oxford develops Government Response Tracker

Several months into the pandemic, it’s easy to get lost in the many international responses and strategies that are being developed and adapted to changing circumstances. The University of Oxford now has developed a free tool to track and compare policies using interactive maps.

Governments around the world have taken a wide range of measures in response to Covid-19. Given the uncertainties surrounding many aspects of the virus, it’s easy to get lost in the many responses and strategies that are continuously being developed and adapted to changing circumstances. To get some sense of the measures and to track and compare policies, researchers at the University of Oxford have developed the Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker. It systematically collects information on policy responses on 17 indicators such as school closures and travel restrictions.

The tool is useful for those who seek information on countries’ compliance with WHO guidelines and the level of government action in 180 countries. As the researchers explain in a related working paper, the data presented do not measure effectiveness directly. However, the data can be useful input to studies that analyse factors affecting disease progression. In other words, the data “simply record the number and strictness of government policies, and should not be interpreted as ‘scoring’ the appropriateness or effectiveness of a country’s response. A higher position in an index does not necessarily mean that a country’s response is ‘better’ than others lower on the index”.

This being said, a large number of useful interactive maps made available by the researchers at Our World in Data show what measures have been taken by individual countries from 21 January up to the present. The topics addressed include the level of government stringency, containment and health policies, workplace closures during the pandemic, the cancellation of public events, public information campaigns, public transport, restrictions on internal movement, debt and contract relief, and several others.

As the maps are updated regularly, they offer an excellent and easy to understand overview of approaches in individual countries and allow the identification of patterns across continents.

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