The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission have recently launched their joint Response Measures Database (RMD).
The ECDC-JRC RMD is mainly concerned with how non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) affect disease transmission rather than cataloguing the provision of a service, or the social and economic impacts of the NPIs introduced.
Measures are recorded following a three-level hierarchical coding system (Levels 1, 2 and 3). The choices made for this categorisation are based on the best-fitting possible representation of interventions implemented by different European countries.
The first NPI coding level (Level 1) divides measures in seven categories as follows:
- Physical distancing: this represents the largest category of measures, including those aimed at reducing contact between individuals: stay-at-home orders and recommendations, private gathering and social circle recommendations, restrictions on public gatherings, and closures of public spaces (e.g. businesses, shops, entertainment venues), closures of public transport, and closures of educational institution (such as day-care centres, primary and secondary schools, universities and higher educational institutions).
- Hygiene and safety measures: this concerns measures that aim to reduce the infectiousness of contacts (e.g. the use of protective masks), measures concerning the disinfection of public spaces and measures improving air safety.
- Case management and quarantine: this corresponds to interventions related to the management of COVID-19 cases and their contacts, such as contact tracing, isolation of cases and quarantining of people who have been in contact with an infected case.
- Ensuring treatment capacity: this represents interventions taken to ensure adequate COVID-19- and non-COVID-19-related care.
- General measures: this includes generic NPIs such as communication to the public, risk assessment, or the activation of emergency management teams.
- Internal travel: this concerns all measures restricting travel and mobility within a country.
- International travel: this gathers measures restricting international travel (e.g. movements across borders and the closure of international maritime, air and land borders).
Level 2 presents a further sub-specification of the first level of NPIs. 40 specifications are presented at this level, ranging from specific targeted places to target sub-populations. For example, at Level 2 of physical distancing measures, data is collected to define the difference between “closure of educational settings”, “public gathering
restrictions” and “closure of public spaces”.
Level 3 represents further differentiations of Level 2; in this case, “closure of educational settings” is divided into day-care centres, primary, secondary, and higher education institutions. Similarly, for public gathering restrictions at Level 3, the maximum participation thresholds introduced by various countries for public events are determined. Not all measures have a specified Level 3 coding because the Level 2 specifications do not always need further subcategories.
The public web application currently presents the active response measures since 1 September 2020. The ECDC-JRC RMD will continue to be updated as long as NPIs remain a relevant aspect of the response to this public health emergency by countries. As of January 2021, the RMD is reviewed and updated every two weeks. The frequency of updates will be adapted bearing in mind the epidemiological situation.
ECDC notes that despite systematic and extensive data quality and consistency checks for each regular update, there remains substantial differences in response policies and their implementation between countries. For instance, the level of enforcement of measures may vary between countries, and there may be specific rules and exceptions to the measures. Due to the complexity of NPIs and their implementation, it may appear that the same restriction in two countries — despite standardized definitions — would differ in some specific aspects by country in the field. For these reasons, the assessment of the impact of each NPI is accompanied by a country-specific contextual analysis.
Article adapted from information by ECDC