IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

What have European countries done to prevent the spread of COVID-19? Lessons from the COVID-19 Health system response monitor


  • Rajan, Selina
  • McKee, Martin
  • Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina
  • Karanikolos, Marina
  • Richardson, Erica
  • Webb, Erin
  • Cylus, Jonathan


Although some European countries imposed measures that successfully slowed the transmission of Covid-19 during the first year of the pandemic, others struggled, either because they acted slowly or implemented measures ineffectively. In this paper we consider the European experience with public health measures designed to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Based on literature and country responses described in the COVID-19 Health System Response Monitor from March 2020 to December 2020, we consider some critical aspects of public health policy responses. These include the importance of public health capacity that can scale up surveillance and outbreak control, including effective testing and contract tracing, of clear messaging based on an understanding of human behaviour, policies that address the undesirable consequences of necessary measures, such as support for those isolating or unable to earn, and the ability to implement at pace and scale a major vaccine rollout. We conclude that for countries to be successful at preventing COVID-19 transmission, there is a need for a clear strategy with explicit goals and a whole systems approach to implementation.

Suggested Citation

  • Rajan, Selina & McKee, Martin & Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina & Karanikolos, Marina & Richardson, Erica & Webb, Erin & Cylus, Jonathan, 2022. "What have European countries done to prevent the spread of COVID-19? Lessons from the COVID-19 Health system response monitor," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 126(5), pages 355-361.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:126:y:2022:i:5:p:355-361
    DOI: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2022.03.005

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Siciliani, Luigi & Wild, Claudia & McKee, Martin & Kringos, Dionne & Barry, Margaret M. & Barros, Pedro Pita & De Maeseneer, Jan & Murauskiene, Liubove & Ricciardi, Walter, 2020. "Strengthening vaccination programmes and health systems in the European Union: A framework for action," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 124(5), pages 511-518.
    2. Jeffrey V Lazarus & Scott Ratzan & Adam Palayew & Francesco C Billari & Agnes Binagwaho & Spencer Kimball & Heidi J Larson & Alessia Melegaro & Kenneth Rabin & Trenton M White & Ayman El-Mohandes, 2020. "COVID-SCORE: A global survey to assess public perceptions of government responses to COVID-19 (COVID-SCORE-10)," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(10), pages 1-18, October.
    3. Czypionka, Thomas & Greenhalgh, Trisha & Schmid, Manuel & Bassler, Dirk, 2020. "Masks and face coverings for the lay public: A narrative update," SocArXiv wuk6a, Center for Open Science.
    4. Andrew D Kerkhoff & Darpun Sachdev & Sara Mizany & Susy Rojas & Monica Gandhi & James Peng & Douglas Black & Diane Jones & Susana Rojas & Jon Jacobo & Valerie Tulier-Laiwa & Maya Petersen & Jackie Mar, 2020. "Evaluation of a novel community-based COVID-19 ‘Test-to-Care’ model for low-income populations," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(10), pages 1-18, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Stephen Duckett, 2022. "Public Health Management of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Australia: The Role of the Morrison Government," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(16), pages 1, August.
    2. Ramalingam Shanmugam & Lawrence Fulton & Jose Betancourt & Gerardo J. Pacheco, 2022. "Indexing Inefficacy of Efforts to Stop Escalation of COVID Mortality," Mathematics, MDPI, vol. 10(24), pages 1-11, December.
    3. Karreinen, Soila & Rautiainen, Pauli & Keskimäki, Ilmo & Satokangas, Markku & Viita-aho, Marjaana & Tynkkynen, Liina-Kaisa, 2023. "Pandemic preparedness and response regulations in Finland: Experiences and implications for post-COVID-19 reforms," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 132(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Casula, Mattia & Toth, Federico, 2021. "The 2017 Italian reform on mandatory childhood vaccinations: Analysis of the policy process and early implementation," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 125(1), pages 7-11.
    2. Sandra H. Goff & John Ifcher & Homa Zarghamee & Alex Reents & Patrick Wade, 2023. "Support for bigger government: The principle‐implementation gap and COVID‐19," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(2), pages 243-261, April.
    3. Zaynab Aylani & Reziel Cuizon & Shella Mae Bohol & Victor Caranzo & Jamelo Veroy & Ronel Dagohoy, 2021. "Practices and Challenges of Barangay Nanyo, Panabo City in Responding to COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study," International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science, International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS), vol. 5(08), pages 231-240, August.
    4. Ratan J. S. Dheer & Carolyn P. Egri & Len J. Treviño, 2021. "A cross-cultural exploratory analysis of pandemic growth: The case of COVID-19," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 52(9), pages 1871-1892, December.
    5. Bellani Luna & Fazio Andrea & Scervini Francesco, 2023. "Collective negative shocks and preferences for redistribution: Evidence from the COVID-19 crisis in Germany," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 21(2), pages 381-403, June.
    6. Galdikiene, Laura & Jaraite, Jurate & Kajackaite, Agne, 2022. "Trust and vaccination intentions: Evidence from Lithuania during the COVID-19 pandemic," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 17(11), pages 1-1.
    7. Talia Goren & Itai Beeri & Dana R. Vashdi, 2023. "Framing policies to mobilize citizens' behavior during a crisis: Examining the effects of positive and negative vaccination incentivizing policies," Regulation & Governance, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 17(2), pages 570-591, April.
    8. Celia Sama-Berrocal & Beatriz Corchuelo Martínez-Azúa, 2022. "How Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected the Different Branches of the Agri-Food Industry in Extremadura (Spain)?," Land, MDPI, vol. 11(6), pages 1-29, June.
    9. Sebastian Neumann-Böhme & Nirosha Elsem Varghese & Iryna Sabat & Pedro Pita Barros & Werner Brouwer & Job Exel & Jonas Schreyögg & Tom Stargardt, 2020. "Once we have it, will we use it? A European survey on willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 21(7), pages 977-982, September.
    10. Julio Emilio Marco-Franco & Pedro Pita-Barros & Silvia González-de-Julián & Iryna Sabat & David Vivas-Consuelo, 2021. "Simplified Mathematical Modelling of Uncertainty: Cost-Effectiveness of COVID-19 Vaccines in Spain," Mathematics, MDPI, vol. 9(5), pages 1-15, March.
    11. Ruth Waitzberg & Noa Triki & Sharon Alroy-Preis & Tomer Lotan & Liat Shiran & Nachman Ash, 2021. "The Israeli Experience with the “Green Pass” Policy Highlights Issues to Be Considered by Policymakers in Other Countries," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(21), pages 1-9, October.
    12. Wang, Di & Mao, Zhifei, 2021. "A comparative study of public health and social measures of COVID-19 advocated in different countries," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 125(8), pages 957-971.
    13. Pattaphol Yuktadatta & Shunsuke Ono & Mostafa Saidur Rahim Khan & Yoshihiko Kadoya, 2022. "Satisfaction with the COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Policy: A Study of the Special Cash Payment Policy for Residents of Japan," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(6), pages 1-15, March.
    14. Mary Chidiac & Christopher Ross & Hannah R. Marston & Shannon Freeman, 2022. "Age and Gender Perspectives on Social Media and Technology Practices during the COVID-19 Pandemic," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(21), pages 1-14, October.
    15. Jeffrey V. Lazarus & Katarzyna Wyka & Trenton M. White & Camila A. Picchio & Kenneth Rabin & Scott C. Ratzan & Jeanna Parsons Leigh & Jia Hu & Ayman El-Mohandes, 2022. "Revisiting COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy around the world using data from 23 countries in 2021," Nature Communications, Nature, vol. 13(1), pages 1-14, December.
    16. Stojetz, Wolfgang & Ferguson, Neil T.N. & Baliki, Ghassan & Díaz, Oscar & Elfes, Jan & Esenaliev, Damir & Freudenreich, Hanna & Koebach, Anke & Abreu, Liliana & Peitz, Laura & Todua, Ani & Schreiner, , 2022. "The Life with Corona survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 306(C).
    17. Mira L Schneiders & Bhensri Naemiratch & Phaik Kin Cheah & Giulia Cuman & Tassawan Poomchaichote & Supanat Ruangkajorn & Silvia Stoppa & Anne Osterrieder & Phee-Kheng Cheah & Darlene Ongkili & Wiricha, 2022. "The impact of COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical interventions on the lived experiences of people living in Thailand, Malaysia, Italy and the United Kingdom: A cross-country qualitative study," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 17(1), pages 1-27, January.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:126:y:2022:i:5:p:355-361. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu or the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.