People's concerns growing and carelessness rises, study finds

Growing tiredness with measures, lower willingness to vaccinate, rising fears of crowds
08 October 2020
Corona Symbolbild

Growing concerns about personal health amid resurgent coronavirus infections and a decreasing willingness to keep to social-distancing and hygiene rules are among the findings of a survey by the Hamburg Center for Health Economics (HCHE) at the University of Hamburg. More than 7,000 people in Germany and six other European countries were interviewed between September 8-19, 2020 for the survey. Respondents also expressed reservations about large gatherings of people and vaccinations.

Tired of corona measures

Almost one in four people in Germany believe they are at high risk of infection. This figure had dropped between April and June, but has risen by three percentage points since June and was evident in all the countries surveyed. In France and Portugal, the figures for September were significantly higher than those in April.

Yet despite these growing concerns, a decreasing number of people are adhering to rules on social distancing and hygiene. "The rising numbers of infections are frightening the population, but at the same time there is evidence of a certain fatigue in adhering to the rules," said Prof. Dr. Jonas Schreyögg, Director of HCHE. Only 45 per cent of people in Germany said that they observe social distancing rules. Only 39 per cent adhere to the recommended hand hygiene. Only 58 per cent avoid greeting each other with hugs, kisses and handshakes compared to 77 per cent in April.

Rising number of opponents to vaccine

In April, around 70 per cent of people in Germany expressed willingness to be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 compared to just over half in September. This trend was evident in all EU countries participating in the survey. The proportion of those who are explicitly opposed to a vaccination is growing.

Divided opinions on cultural events and sports

Although many people act nonchalant, they are all sceptical of larger crowds. Respondents expressed the least worries about cinemas and theatres. Around 38 per cent came out in favour of performances with spectators. Only 25 per cent expressed willingness to go an event in a stadium and 24 per cent to concert. More than one in two said they were unlikely to attend a cinema or theatre performance.

Corona research at HCHE 

The Hamburg Center for Health Economics (HCHE) at the University of Hamburg has investigated people's attitudes, concerns and confidence about the corona pandemic since April. More than 7,000 respondents in Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Britain took part in the three surveys conducted hitherto (April, June and September). The study is a collaborative project with the universities Nova School of Business and Economics in Portugal, the Bocconi University in Italy and the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The University of Hamburg is funding the project with funds from the Excellence Strategy.