A Tool to Evaluate Public Perception of Countries' Response to the PandemicALESSIA 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:
South Korea 74.54
South Africa 64.62
United States 50.57
by Tomaso Eridani