Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions against COVID-19 in Europe: a quasi-experimental study

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The current epidemic of COVID-19 is unparalleled in recent history as are the social distancing interventions that have led to a significant halt on the economic and social life of so many countries. However, there is very little empirical evidence about which social distancing measures have the most impact. We report a quasi-experimental study of the impact of various interventions for control of the outbreak. Data on case numbers and deaths were taken from the daily published figures by the European Centre for Disease Control and dates of initiation of various control strategies from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation website and published sources. Our complementary analyses were modelled in R using Bayesian generalised additive mixed models (GAMM) and in Stata using multi-level mixed effects regression models. From both sets of modelling, we found that closure of education facilities, prohibiting mass gatherings and closure of some non-essential businesses were associated with reduced incidence whereas stay at home orders and closure of all non-businesses was not associated with any independent additional impact. Our results could help inform strategies for coming out of lockdown.

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.

Funding Statement

Professor Hunter and Dr. Brainard were funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response at Kings College London in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with the University of East Anglia. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, UEA, the Department of Health or Public Health England. Dr. Colon-Gonzalez is funded by the UK Space Agency Dengue Mosquito Simulation from Satellites (D-MOSS) project.

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Paper in collection COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv