stringency index

Introduction: Index is released by Oxford University (news)

The Government Response Stringency Index is a tool to trace and compare policies of governments tackling the coronavirus outbreak worldwide. University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School has launched this system. This project is led by Thomas Hale, Associate Professor at Blavatnik School of Government. The Government Response Tracker systematically records the responses of government worldwide and aggregates the score into a standard “stringency index” which is based on 17 indicators.

Eight of the policy indicators record information on containment like the closure of schools, colleges, and workplace, restrictions on travel (C1-C8), Four of the indicators record information associated with economic policies like income support to citizens or fund allocation in foreign aid (E1-E4) and five indicators record health systems policies like COVID-19 testing scheme or emergency investments in healthcare (H1-H5). Stringency Index is a number from 0-100 that manifests these indicators. The level of stringency is proportional to the index score.

The tracker is launched with data from 73 countries hitherto, including, China, the USA, South Korea, France, UK, and Italy. The index allows users to track variations in government responses. This index help researchers understand whether stringent measures taken by the government affect the rate of infection, and identify what engender government to impose stricter or less strict norms.

The difference in government responses

Government response varies exceptionally from one country to another and their effect is highly dependent on the local political and social settings. The aim of this index is not to measure the effectiveness or appropriateness of a country’s response instead it offers countries to assimilate responses and learn from one another.

The figures are collected from information that is publicly available by an inter-disciplinary Oxford University team of academicians and students around the world.

World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended six measures for relaxing physical distancing;

  • control transmission to a tier the healthcare system can manage
  • the healthcare system can detect and isolate all cases (not just serious ones)
  • manage the transfer to and from high-risk transmission zones
  • and community engagement.

Salient features

  1. It gives a picture of a phase in which any country imposed its stringent measures.
  2. Oxford provides a blanket of countries’ death curves and their stringency score.
  3. Some countries witnessed that their deaths begin to flatten as they reached their highest level of strictness such as Italy, Spain, or France.
  4. Whereas in countries like the UK, the USA, and India, the Oxford graph finds that the death curve has not flattened after stringent measures were enforced. However, China’s death curve plateaued.
  5. This index helps countries in understanding what measures would be effective in this situation and why.
  6. This index provides several indicators so as to measure the index score.
  7. Data collected helps professional health-workers and decision-makers to examine the validity of government responses.
  8. It helps the government in doing comparative study and sees as to what changes are necessary in their policies or strategies in order to overcome the situation.
  9. The data is available online free of cost.
  10. The reason for its creation is to update governments’ responses around the world with a change in the situation.

Where does India stand in the index?

  1. India had imposed one of the strongest lockdowns at an early stage of the growth in the number of cases.
  2. India had imposed its lockdown since 24th March when there were only 320 cases of COVID-19 and 4 deaths. While the other 18 countries like UK, USA, China, Italy, France, Spain, Sweden, Iran, etc., had more than 500 cases when they imposed their strictest lockdown.
  3. India had one of the robust lockdown measures worldwide at a 100 score since March 22.
  4. When India reached a score of 100 with 4 deaths till 22nd March, most countries had most deaths except in Switzerland.
  5. Other countries with a score of 100 are Honduras, Argentina, Libya, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Jordan.
  6. India scored 0.7 (below South Korea, Australia, Thailand, Taiwan) as it scored 0 for controlling cases.
  7. Iceland, Croatia, Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Tobago scored highest with 0.9 scores.
  8. As on 13th May 2020, the score of India in Government Response Stringency Index slipped to 79.24 on the scale of 0 to 100 where 100 =

Critical analysis

The Government Response Stringency Index shows the governments’ response towards COVID-19 around the world. And the Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker collects information available publicly which is based on 17 indicators of government response. Although the government of various countries is imposing strict lockdown and is maintaining their scores in the stringency index there exist many side effects of this lockdown.

As we know that every coin has two sides the same is the case with the lockdown. We can witness both the positive and negative aspects of this lockdown, for example, if we talk about India,

Firstly, here the impact of lockdown is positive in containing viruses but the economic depression is one of the biggest threats.[1]

Secondly, due to this lockdown the people from labor class, migrants, and daily wages workers are suffering a lot as they lost their jobs. Migrants are walking across the states with bundles of their belongings on the head and with their children without sufficient food and water for days to reach their home from the workplace as there is no conveyance for traveling.[2] And because of this, the measure of physical distancing is also not being followed. But on the other hand, we can see that the pollution rate across the state has decreased due to less transportation.

Thirdly, the farmers are also facing a huge crisis as the price of vegetables has gone so down and also kilos of fruits have rotten. Disruption in wholesale markets and transportation hurdles has ruined the rural economy.[3]

Fourthly, this lockdown is affecting the students as their studies are getting affected despite online classes as there subsist network issues at the end of the students especially those living in rural areas. The students of class 10th and 12th are getting anxious as their exams are pending. Also, the students of final years are worried about their future as they’re in dilemma as to what to do, prepare for their end exams or job examination, and interviews.[4]

Fifthly, many employees fear the loss of their jobs, pay cuts, appraisals are getting delayed almost for everyone. This ongoing lockdown has also left many employees feeling anxious and worried about their future.[5]

Sixthly, the crime against women has also increased during this lockdown period as many are suffering from domestic violence. But on the other hand, many are also refining their relationships and carry out household chores together.[6]

Seventhly, the pollution level of the river Ganga has also reduced. This lockdown has also contributed to making India a digitalized country as many activities are taking place from home only.

However, we may say that this strictest step of imposing lockdown has its pros and cons.


In conclusion, we may say that the Government Response Stringency Index released by Oxford University is Index. This helps the government to compare their strategies with that of other countries’ in order to deal with this pandemic. However, many countries like the USA, UK, etc., haven’t yet witnessed any changes in the number of cases despite lockdown. This index doesn’t deal with the effectiveness and appropriateness of the response. In my opinion, this index should deal with effectiveness and appropriateness. As we witness, that although lockdown has been imposed it carries many loopholes with itself.


bhagyashikha saptarshi Bhagyashikha Saptarshi









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