Premise Explores the Data Behind Global Awareness of COVID-19

Premise Explores the Data Behind Global Awareness of COVID-19

By Jenny Shapiro | Senior Growth Analyst

Novel Coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, is a respiratory disease first detected in Wuhan City of the Hubei Province of China on December 31st, 2019. There are over 95,100 cases of COVID-19 globally with roughly 80,000 confirmed cases in mainland China and the illness has reportedly spread to over 75 other international locations.* 

In the last few days, there has been an explosion of new cases around the globe—with more new cases of the virus outside of China. Two countries that have a growing number of infected individuals are South Korea and Italy. The only continent that the virus hasn’t spread to is Antarctica.  

Coronaviruses are part of a larger family of zoonotic viruses that infect different animals such as camels, cattle, cats and bats. Rarely these types of viruses can make the jump to humans and if there is a human-to-human transmission mechanism you see events like the current COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV outbreak in 2003. 

To understand perceptions and awareness of the newest Coronavirus outbreak we set a global survey live to 74 countries Premise currently operates in and to date we have received over 65,000 submissions. 

Around the Globe

Globally 88% of respondents were aware of the Coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China. Less than 1% of the population polled had been personally affected by the Coronavirus in some form. Only 86 respondents have traveled or know someone who traveled to Wuhan/Hubei.

Globally 78% of our respondents said they are ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about the spread of Coronavirus. There is a lot of panic surrounding the spread of the virus being seen in the media, with about 44% of our survey respondents said that they are ‘very concerned’ about the spread of Coronavirus. Roughly 34% said that they are ‘concerned’. Only about 9% are ‘unconcerned’ or ‘very unconcerned’.

Most of our respondents seem relatively well informed on the symptoms of Coronavirus: fever, cough, shortness of breath. The majority of people are washing hands or using hand sanitizer more frequently as a main form of prevention. Health officials continue to note that hand washing is one of the best ways for people to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Based on all of the submissions from our survey, 70% of respondents are more concerned about getting the Coronavirus than the flu.    

In the United States 

When we looked at the responses to our survey in the United States, over half of the 6,600 respondents who were aware of the Coronavirus outbreak were ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about the spread of the Coronavirus. Only about 4% of U.S. respondents said that they are ‘very unconcerned.’  

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to grow in the US with 163 known patients across 18 different states. When asked about the response to the crisis, 60% of respondents think that the U.S. government is doing enough to address the Coronavirus outbreak. The current responses include passenger screening for flights returning to the United States from China by the CDC and Department of Homeland Security, travel restrictions and travel advisories to impacted areas. The government is also working on expanding testing and CDC has expanded the pool of people who can be tested to anyone with symptoms. Certain major cities in states like Washington and California have declared a state of emergency due to a rise in cases.  

Almost 80% are aware that Coronavirus symptoms are similar to flu symptoms (fever, headache, cough) and 47% are more worried about contracting the Coronavirus over the flu. In the United States, the CDC has estimated that there have been 18,000 to 46,000 deaths related to influenza during the 2019-2020 season. The CDC continues to urge people to take precautions against the flu, which is estimated to have impacted 32,000,000 to 45,000,000 in the U.S. alone this year. 

The fatality rate of the Coronavirus is still in a state of flux but estimates lie somewhere between 2.0-3.4%. This is deadlier than the seasonal flu (0.1-0.2%) but it may not spread as easily. 

In Southeast Asia 

With the proximity to China, it makes sense that we saw a higher concern and awareness from our respondents in countries in Southeast Asia compared to the average global awareness and concern we saw across our entire survey responses.

89% of Vietnamese respondents are ‘very concerned’ about the spread of Coronavirus to their community.  

In the Philippines, 95% of our respondents have learned about the outbreak and 92% of our respondents have been following coverage of Coronavirus cases reported in the Philippines. Among our respondents, 70% are ‘very concerned’ about the spread of Coronavirus in their community and 80% are more concerned about the spread of Coronavirus over the common flu. 

55% of Taiwanese respondents think that the Chinese government is doing enough to address the outbreak as compared to 83% who think that the Taiwanese government is doing enough to address Coronavirus in their country. This is an interesting observation as the head of the WHO has publicly praised the response by the Chinese government. 

When asked what precautionary measures they were taking 78% of respondents in the Philippines said they were washing their hands and 70% said they were wearing facemasks. While 67% of Taiwanese respondents said they were washing their hands and 80% said that they were wearing facemasks.

A lot of news organizations have been comparing the current coronavirus epidemic in China to previous outbreaks such as the 2003 SARS outbreak. From our survey, 91% of Taiwanese respondents said that they were aware of the SARS outbreak in 2003, but only 34% said that they are more concerned about the current outbreak. SARS had a fatality rate of 10% (compared to the current 2.3% fatality rate of COVID-19) but was brought under control within a matter of months due to international cooperation and strict traditional public health measures such as quarantines and contact tracing. SARS symptoms were much more severe however so it was easier to identify someone with the disease and take quick action. Comparatively COVID-19 symptoms are milder and so someone may be able to spread the virus for a long period of time before realizing that they are infected. 

Coronavirus may turn out to be similar to H1N1, which became so commonplace that it is now seen as part of the common flu even though it infected roughly 60.8 million people worldwide. As a reminder, the seasonal flu has killed about 18,000 people in the United States this season alone. Another parallel may be the Spanish influenza of 1918 that had a very similar fatality of 2.8% that infected a 3rd of the population and killed 50 million worldwide. However, just 100 years later we are in a much different time in human history, especially in regards to the medical advances we have at our disposal, international cooperation and our ability to prepare for such a global health crisis. 

The State of the Virus

At this point and time, the WHO organization has declared the outbreak of the virus to be “a public health emergency of international concern”—its highest level of alarm. The WHO and other health organizations, while taking extreme precautions, want to prevent people from spreading unnecessary fear and stigma around the epidemic. 

Not only has the virus caused a loss of life, but there have also been a number of other global implications including economic impacts of disrupted manufacturing, supply-chains, international travel, and global market stability.

If you are interested in learning more about Premise’s solutions around infectious disease surveillance and control or general sentiment and survey collection, please contact us at Read more about our data collection for COVID-19 here. 


*These numbers are based on reports at the time of publishing and may have since changed. 

About Jenny Shapiro

As a member of the Growth team, Jenny helps to design and implement data collection tools and manage Contributor networks for our international development programs, with a special focus on global health. She works closely alongside Premise program managers and country support specialists to ensure that our clients get the carefully localized data they need, as well as maintaining the overall quality of Premise networks and the Contributor experience.