The sample is based on 31 countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2022) and having a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita higher than U$16,000 to have a homogenous framework for statistical analyses. Countries of the sample here are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.
1.2 Measures for statistical analyses
- Degree of strictness of health policies. Containment and Health Index, provided by The Oxford Coronavirus Government Response Tracker project, is based on thirteen indicators of government responses by countries to face COVID-19 pandemic, such as school closures, workplace and business closures, quarantines, domestic and international travel reductions, testing and tracing policies, wearing face masks, restrictions of events with gatherings (e.g., sportive and music events), cancellation of public and private events, vaccination policies, etc. This index has a range from 0=min to 100=max level of restrictions and strictness. A higher score of containment and health index does not imply a higher effectiveness of government response to cope with COVID-19 than countries with a low degree of strictness (Hale et a., 2021; Stringency Index, 2022). Average values of Containment and Health Index over January 2020 - January 2022 period.
- Wealth of nations. Gross domestic product (GDP) is the value added created through the production of goods and services in a country in a specific period. This study considers GDP per capita in 2020, constant 2010US$ (The World Bank, 2022).
- Economic growth. GDP (annual) growth rate % in 2020. It indicates the GDP volume – annual growth rate in percentage. Sources: OECD Data (2022a).
- Economic growth nominal. GDP (nominal) annual growth % in 2021. It is based on changes in real economic activity and in prices (International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook, 2021).
- Health expenditure (% of GDP). It includes healthcare goods and services consumed during a certain year, but it does not contain health expenditures in capital, such as equipment. Period 2008-2018 (last year available). The Word Bank (2022a).
- Population total of the year 2020 is formed by all residents. Source: The World Bank (2022b).
- Vaccination is measured by percent share of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on 14 February 2022. The data here consider all types of COVID-19 vaccines used in different countries to protect population against this novel infectious disease and its variants. Source: Our World in Data (2022).
- COVID-19 infected individuals (%) is measured with confirmed cases of COVID-19 on 21 February 2022 divided by population. Source of data: Johns Hopkins Center for System Science and Engineering (2022).
- Mortality is measured with Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) % (on 21 February 2022). It assesses the impact of COVID-19 in society and the quality of healthcare system because a lower CFR suggests lower negative effects on health of people and also a better effectiveness of healthcare system (Coccia, 2021a; Lau et al., 2021; WHO, 2020; Wilson et al., 2020). Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) is given by:
Angelopoulos at al. (2020) maintain that Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) between countries is a critical indicator to support governments in the decision making of crisis management to cope with COVID-19 pandemic. Source of data: Johns Hopkins Center for System Science and Engineering (2022).
- Medical ventilators. Ventilators (total number, variable time span: 2015 – 2020). Source: Our World in Data (2022a).
1.3 Data analysis procedure
Firstly, the containment index (2022) of countries under study is used to categorize the sample in two sets:
- Group 1: Countries with a high degree of restrictions and mandatory measures in society to cope with COVID-19: average containment index (2022) over 2020-2022 period here is about 60 points (100=max of restrictions)
- Group 2: Countries with a low degree of restrictions and impositions for people: average containment index (2022) has a score lower than 48 points.
Secondly, descriptive statistics given by arithmetic mean and standard error of the mean of variables are calculated for two groups just mentioned. Results show a preliminary comparative analysis of the effectiveness of countries’ policy responses based on a higher /lower level of containment policies implemented in socioeconomic systems (Coccia, 2018).
Thirdly, follow-up investigation is performed with bivariate Pearson correlation and partial correlation (controlling health expenditure as % of GDP) to assess the sample correlation coefficient, r, which measures the strength and direction of linear relationships between pairs of continuous variables under study.
Fourthly, the study applies the Independent Samples T-test to determine whether there is statistical evidence that the arithmetic means of variables between groups are significantly different and that countries having a high degree of containments policies and strictness, they have also a higher effectiveness to cope with COVID-19 pandemic crisis: i.e., lower numbers of infections and total deaths.