The COVID-19 pandemic struck the world unguarded, some places outperformed others in COVID-19 containment. This longitudinal study considered a comparative evaluation of COVID-19 containment across 50 distinctly governed regions between March 2020 and November 2021. Our analysis distinguishes between a pre-vaccine phase (March–November 2020) and a vaccinating phase (December 2020–November 2021). In the first phase, we develop an indicator, termed lockdown efficiency (LE), to estimate the efficacy of measures against monthly case numbers. Nine other indicators were considered, including vaccine-related indicators in the second phase. Linear mixed models are used to explore the relationship between each government policy & hygiene education (GP&HE) indicator and each vital health & socioeconomic (VH&SE) measure. Our ranking shows that surveyed countries in Oceania and Asian outperformed countries in other regions for pandemic containment prior to vaccine development. Their success appears to be associated with non-pharmaceutical interventions, acting early, and adjusting policies as needed. After vaccines have been distributed, maintaining non-pharmacological intervention is the best way to achieve protection from variant viral strains, breakthrough infections, waning vaccine efficacy, and vaccine hesitancy limiting of herd immunity. The findings of the study provide insights into the effectiveness of emerging infectious disease containment policies worldwide.