A Tool to Evaluate Public Perception of Countries' Response to the Pandemic

A Tool to Evaluate Public Perception of Countries' Response to the Pandemic

ALESSIA MELEGARO AND FRANCESCO BILLARI COLLABORATED IN THE INTERNATIONAL PROJECT COVID SCORE TO HELP IDENTIFY WEAKNESSES IN GOVERNMENTS' RESPONSES TO COVID19. THE FIRST RESULTS SHOW THAT ITALIANS HAVE POSITIVELY EVALUATED THE INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS

Develop an easy and reliable tool to assess the public perception of governments' response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the objective of the project that led to the creation of COVID-SCORE, an international project coordinated by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health (CUNY SPH), which saw the collaboration of Alessia Melegaro, Director of the Covid Crisis Lab at Bocconi, and Francesco Billari, professor of demography at Bocconi. According to an analysis of the first results obtained in 19 countries, the COVID-SCORE questionnaire can help can help public health officials and other decision makers identify and correct weaknesses in key aspects of a country’s response, and track trends as the pandemic evolves.

Government  response  to  the  COVID-19  pandemic  has  varied  considerably  between countries.   Although   most   governments   have   implemented   a   series   of   common measures  such  as  mobility  restrictions or lockdowns,  the  timing  and  approach  have  differed.  One  key element  that  determines  the  course  of  a  pandemic  is  society’s  compliance  with  such measures, which in turn depends on several factors such as trust in government or the clarity of the information that government sources provide.  
 
“We  need  basic  tools  to  help  us  assess  the  public  perception  of  government  responses in key aspects such as communication, or access to health services and social welfare,” says  Jeffrey  V  Lazarus,  researcher  at  ISGlobal. The COVID-SCORE contains 10  items  related  to key aspects of the government response, to be rated by the interviewees.
 
The study, published in PLOS ONE, validates  the  tool  and presents  the  first  results  from  a  survey  conducted  in  June  2020  with  over 13,400 participants from 19 countries heavily affected by the pandemic. The average score varied considerably between countries – from 35.76 out of a maximum of 100 for Ecuador to 80.48 for China, the country whose response was rated most positively. The average rating of Italians on their government's performance is in the middle of the scale, 51.71, and the items with the highest score concern the government's cooperation with other countries and international organizations such as the WHO (3.58 on a scale of 1 to 5), trust in government reports on virus spread and Covid cases and mortality data (3.43) and the government's clarity in communicating information on protection and safety measures (3.36). While the item with the lowest score (2.71) concerns the provision of special protection for the most vulnerable groups (elderly, migrants, the poor).

"We know that compliance with prevention measures implemented by governments depends strongly on the level of confidence in public health experts, the health system and science," comments Melegaro. As  expected,  the  average  score  for  a  country  was  strongly  associated  with  the  level  of trust  in  government. And a higher COVID-19 mortality or a higher percentage of respondents directly affected by the virus impacted directly on a lower score for the country, the researchers found. "It is interesting to note that for all countries protection and assistance to the most vulnerable groups received the lowest score, which underlines the need for governments to focus greater attention on these groups and deploy the necessary resources to offer, especially to the most fragile, the support to which they are entitled".
 
Average score by country:

China                    80.48 
South Korea         74.54
South Africa          64.62
India                     63.88
Germany              61.32
Canada                61.00
Singapore             57.55
Italy                      51.71
United States         50.57
France                   49.20
Russia                   48.85
UK                         48.66
Mexico                  46.48
Nigeria                 46.32
Spain                    44.68
Sweden                 42.07
Poland                   41.28
Brazil                     36.35
Ecuador                 35.76




 

by Tomaso Eridani

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