Identifying effective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic

June 2022   |   Reports

In 2021, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet asked the Social Wellbeing Agency to investigate the impact of various government interventions on the spread of COVID-19 and its burden on the health system.

Our report, Identifying effective policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, summarises a number of COVID-19 policies alongside reported case rates in New Zealand and 49 similar countries.

 Summary findings

  • Across the countries examined, the policies most implemented related to containment and closure, such as workplace closures and restriction of movement. These type of policies significantly reduced COVID-19 case numbers.
  • About 40% of the time, countries introduced or strengthened policies in multiple areas at the same time (across the four groupings of containment and closure; economic; health system; and vaccinations).
  • The introduction of economic policies such as income support is associated with the largest short-term reduction in COVID-19 cases.
  • Policies relating to contact tracing and face coverings were associated with significant reductions in cases. Given their lower cost compared with other policies, they are an effective and efficient tool to reduce COVID-19.
  • New Zealand had high adherence to stay-at-home requirements.
  • Vaccination is highly effective over the medium and long-term, rather than reducing cases in a matter of weeks.