Adoption and impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions for COVID-19

Imai N.,
Gaythorpe K.A.M.,
Abbott S.,
Bhatia S.,
van Elsland S.,
Prem K.,
Liu Y.,
Ferguson N.M.
Document Type
Source Title
Wellcome Open Research
F1000 Research Ltd


Background: Several non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) have been implemented across the world to control the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Social distancing (SD) interventions applied so far have included school closures, remote working and quarantine. These measures have been shown to have large impacts on pandemic influenza transmission. However, there has been comparatively little examination of such measures for COVID-19. Methods: We examined the existing literature, and collated data, on implementation of NPIs to examine their effects on the COVID-19 pandemic so far. Data on NPIs were collected from official government websites as well as from media sources. Results: Measures such as travel restrictions have been implemented in multiple countries and appears to have slowed the geographic spread of COVID-19 and reduced initial case numbers. We find that, due to the relatively sparse information on the differences with and without interventions, it is difficult to quantitatively assess the efficacy of many interventions. Similarly, whilst the comparison to other pandemic diseases such as influenza can be helpful, there are key differences that could affect the efficacy of similar NPIs. Conclusions: The timely implementation of control measures is key to their success and must strike a balance between early enough application to reduce the peak of the epidemic and ensuring that they can be feasibly maintained for an appropriate duration. Such measures can have large societal impacts and they need to be appropriately justified to the population. As the pandemic of COVID-19 progresses, quantifying the impact of interventions will be a vital consideration for the appropriate use of mitigation strategies. © 2020 Imai N et al.

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