The British government’s haphazard approach to quarantining travelers won’t make up for its failed domestic coronavirus containment efforts.
- 38.2 Public Health
- 58.2 Financial
- 68 Fact-Based
The UK scored in the median for overall policy, due to a relatively strong financial policy, although its weak lockdown hurt its score.
The UK has a low number of hospital beds, balanced out by a relatively low degree of inequality, and it scores slightly above average in most other categories.
- Debt/GDP ratio 86.8%
- GDP/capita $48,169
- Gini coefficient (out of 100) 34.8
- Infant mortality rate (out of 1,000 live births) 4
- Healthcare access score (out of 100) 84.6
- Hospital beds/1,000 People 19.7
Government ResponseSelect a data point for more information
(Data points represent policy level as of Sep 1.)
Public Health Directives
The UK’s public health policy score is around the median, with its score brought down by limited stay-at-home orders, a late travel-restriction policy, limited testing, and few funds for emergency healthcare needs.
- Stay at home order 0
- Public gathering restrictions 4
- School closings 0
- Public event cancellations 0
- Testing policy 0
- Emergency healthcare investments/capita $94.86
- Travel restrictions 2
- Tests/1,000 people 198.1
- Contact tracing 2
The UK’s financial response has been relatively strong in terms of income support and debt relief, although its overall stimulus package has been relatively small, resulting in an overall score in the median.
- Financial stimulus as share of GDP 5%
- Income support 2
- Debt forebearance 2
The British government has largely not engaged in misinformation but has, in some instances, limited media access to information in response to COVID-19.
- Reliance on science/fact based information 1
- Press freedom 1
COVID-19 Status as of Sep 1
The UK’s delayed lockdown and poor public health policy have resulted in a very high rate of confirmed deaths, placing it in the bottom quartile.
- Total deaths 41,501
- Death rate per 100K 611.3
- Total cases 335,873
- Cases per 100K 4,948
- Percent of positive tests 0.6
- Change in positivity rates +0.2
|1||May 13||Manufacturing and construction workers are encouraged to go back to work||47.16|
|2||Jun 01||Some schools, outdoor markets, and car showrooms reopen||22.95|
|3||Jun 08||Dentist 's offices reopen||17.94|
|4||Jun 15||All other non-essential retail reopens||15.02|
|5||Jul 04||Hospitality, personal care service industries, and public places reopen||9.19|
- Temporary school re-opening creates natural test of spread: The UK's month-long re-opening of schools in June has created a natural test for the spread of coronavirus among children and teachers and has given hope to those who want students to return to school in September. Throughout the month, only 70 cases were reported among students, and 128 among staff. Read More
- Contact tracing hampered by Internet outages: Health officials in Southampton were unable to trace and isolate the contacts of thousands of people who had tested positive for coronavirus in early August, due to an Internet outage that affected the contact-tracing system. People were unaware of their need to isolate for over two weeks, exceeding the 48-hour contact-tracing window recommended by the government. Read More
- Decentralized healthcare created confusion: The UK healthcare system is devolved, meaning that authorities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are free to make their own decisions regardless of the directives emanating from Westminster. This has led to confusion and conflict between prominent politicians, particularly relating to economic re-opening and social distancing measures. Read More
- OECD predicts UK economy will shrink substantially: The OECD has predicted that the UK economy will shrink by 11.5 percent, more than any other OECD country. Read More
- UK considers joining EU to secure vaccine: In a move that may have implications for post-Brexit cooperation with the EU, the government is assessing whether to join an EU program to secure COVID vaccinations as a bloc. The EU's size gives it greater power to strike a deal with drug companies and keep prices low, but entering this program would prevent the UK from conducting separate negotiations with other pharmaceutical companies. Read More
Compared with Other Small Island Nations
100New Zealand 1,401
Per 1M 22
New Zealand has had very strong policy, particularly its reliance on science and facts, and its very strong financial response.
Per 1M 10
Iceland scores near the median, having strong public communications and testing but moderate interventions otherwise.
Per 1M 7
Taiwan has a relatively strong overall policy score, but does not score as highly as expected due to a lack of lockdown, minimal stimulus, and weak support for debt relief. Given data limitations, the score likely underestimates Taiwan’s very strong contact-tracing policy, which is so advanced that it may have diminished the need for other policy responses.
Further Reading From Foreign Policy
Be the source of actionable insight.
Select one of the subscription options below to read the full Covid-19 Global Response Index. Unlock even more global intelligence with a subscription to FP Insider.
Already an FP Insider? Log In
Looking for group access? Contact us directly
Statistics and government response factors available on each country profile include:
- Debt to GDP ratio
- Infant mortality rates
- Hospital beds per 1,000 people
- Gini coefficients measuring inequality
- Health access and quality
COVID-19 Public Health Directives:
- Stay-at home orders
- School-closing policy
- Public-gathering restrictions
- Cancellation of public events
- Testing policy and rates per 1,000 people
- Emergency healthcare spending per capita
- Travel restrictions
- Contact tracing
COVID-19 Financial Response:
- Stimulus package as a share of GDP
- Income support
- Instances of misinformation by leadership
- Limitations on press freedom, censorship
Current/Historic In-Country COVID-19 Status:
- Death rates per 1 million
- Case rates per 1 million