Lessons Learned: Supporting policy interventions on COVID-19
Researchers at the Blavatnik School of Government have captured and shared policy responses to the COVID pandemic.
It’s vital that governments and global institutions responding to the COVID pandemic and future epidemics have access to information about policy responses which could help inform their own interventions. But policy makers usually don’t have time to look in-depth at what is happening in other contexts.
We set up the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker database in March 2020, to capture and share data about policy responses from around the world, including vaccination strategies and outcomes. The policy responses tracked cover more than 180 countries under 23 indicators, such as school closures, travel restrictions, and vaccination policy.
The policy responses tracked cover more than 180 countries under 23 indicators, such as school closures, travel restrictions, and vaccination policy.
An OPEN award from the Strategic Priorities Research Fund (Jan 2021) allowed us to build a formal network of COVID response policymakers around the Tracker, and design a series of workshops to allow them to debate issues and share information. We were also able to provide partners with ‘deep-dive’ evidence on key topics and add new indicators to the database, including information on shielding senior citizens and subnational data in key countries.
The activities really helped us deepen and extend our relationships with policy partners. We now have a better understanding of the evidence needs of policy partners; and work with a broader range of staff from the Cabinet Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (a key user and stakeholder), as well as a greater number of global and international agencies. The strength of these relationships was demonstrated by the fact that many of them joined our weekly check-ins with our volunteer data collectors – which was extremely motivating and gave them a better idea of how the data they collected would be used!
Enabling decision makers and citizens to understand government policy responses in a clear and consistent way is vital to ensuring effective interventions to fight global challenges. The OPEN award was instrumental in allowing us to deepen our policy engagement activities around the Tracker to help achieve this.
Thomas Hale is Professor in Public Policy (Global Public Policy) at the Blavatnik School of government, and a member of the Oxford Policy Engagement Network.