This week’s Covid-19 report reflects a certain degree of uncertainty across the markets surveyed.
The majority hope that they have seen the worse of the pandemic, with attention now turning to how best to reverse lockdown, evidenced on p16 in support (or lack of) for strategies going forward. Only 53% HCPs now think businesses and schools should be closed, compared to 72% in week four. Now, vaccinations and PPE are amongst the measures considered to be the most effective.
The perceived threat level of Covid-19 continues to drop, with only 40% of HCPs and 46% of patients considering it to be a severe threat at this time.
Despite criticism of the federal government in the US in open-end questions, HCP confidence in the US government’s preparedness has increased slightly, albeit to only 50%. Confidence in the Spanish government is by far the lowest, at 30%, as it becomes one of the first countries to lift restrictions.
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Confidence in government and local plans
HCP confidence in government plans is reduced slightly across all markets with the exception of the US, reflecting uncertainty about ‘next steps’ as governments consider their strategies to reverse lockdowns and stay at home orders.
Confidence in local plans is the same as last week, at 75% of HCPs and 70% of patients. At a country-level, the USA is again an exception, with HCP confidence rising from 74% last week, to 78% this week.
HCPs’ confidence in their own hospital’s plans remains at 78%, with small increases in France, now at 81%, Italy (71%), and the US (78%).
How serious of a threat is Covid-19 at a local level
The percentage of HCPs and patients who consider Covid-19 to be a severe threat dropped further this week. Although patients remain more concerned than their HCPs, they appear to be about a week behind so we expect see a further drop next week.
HCPs and patients in Germany remain the least worried, with both at 22%, followed by French HCPs (33%) and American HCPs (38%). Spanish and UK patients are the most concerned at 53%, with their HCP equivalents both at 52%.
How can we contain Covid-19?
As the shift in attention moves towards the best ways to relax restrictions whilst avoiding a surge in new infections, the containment measures recommended by HCPs reflect that focus.
Although ‘hand hygiene’ remains the most popular option at 85%, using protective equipment is recommended by 79% of HCPs, and 69% think that vaccinations will be the most effective way of containing the spread. Support for the closure of businesses and schools is down to 53% from a high of 72% in week four. 72% still think large-scale events should be cancelled.
Staying up-to-date: media coverage
For HCPs there is no change at all from last week although the open end questions from US HCPs reveal some interesting insights on media consumption.
Respondents cite their preferred sources of information as people rather than media channels; Governors Bullock and Cuomo are both mentioned, as well as Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH. They report that factual information is most important to them and they are concerned about the level of politicisation of the pandemic and its potential to affect media coverage.
Staying up-to-date: official information
The trends that emerged from week three have continued, with only 28% HCPs now checking official information multiple times a day, and 59% checking daily. 10% are now only checking weekly
This week introduces a new option based on responses to the ‘other’ option in week six, with 48% supporting the introduction of antibody testing.
Testing for HCPs and the general public remains important. 62% US HCPs would ask for increased
testing for the public, and 42% for HCP testing. In the UK this is reversed, with HCP testing considered much more important (63%) than additional testing for the public (37%).
HCPs’ messages to the general public are largely unchanged, unsurprisingly. In the open end responses advice expands on these key themes. Respondents stress that it’s important to stay calm and understand relative risks. They also advise the use of masks which are being adopted more widely, particularly in Germany and some US states including California.
Many recommend physical exercise and adopting a more healthy lifestyle.
The new patient question this week asked what they were most concerned about, in line with concerns over the impact of Covid-19 on the general public’s mental health.
There was no uniting anxiety around any specific issue beyond the 60% worried about the health of their loved ones (compared to 24% concerned about their own physical health). Understandably,one-third of respondents are worried about ‘the unknown’.
The open end responses reveal that for many respondents the worries at the moment go beyond Covid-19; they’re at least as anxious about their ‘normal’ health and global warming,