August 20, 2020

ANOTHER FAILURE OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Ignorance About Covid-19 Risk Is ‘Nothing Short of Stunning,’ Research Report Says.

A leading financial firm, Franklin Templeton, figured that people’s behavioral response to the pandemic will play a crucial role in shaping the economic recovery, so they teamed up with Gallup, the polling outfit, to find out what people know and don’t know.

“These results are nothing short of stunning,” concluded the firm. “Six months into this pandemic, Americans still dramatically misunderstand the risk of dying from COVID-19.”

That’s no exaggeration, and the implications go far beyond the economic behavior Franklin Templeton was interested in.

Here is what they found:

First, the Franklin Templeton-Gallup survey found that the general population has a little understanding how heavily the pandemic is focused on the older population. It is not broad-based. From the report:

On average, Americans believe that people aged 55 and older account for just over half of total COVID-19 deaths; the actual figure is 92%.
Americans believe that people aged 44 and younger account for about 30% of total deaths; the actual figure is 2.7%.
Americans overestimate the risk of death from COVID-19 for people aged 24 and younger by a factor of 50; and they think the risk for people aged 65 and older is half of what it actually is (40% vs 80%).

You can blame the news media, too.

UPDATE: “Risk of death” is confusing there, but they’re not saying that you have an 80% risk of dying of Covid if you’re over 65. Rather they’re saying that 80% of the deaths occur in that cohort, I believe. See the original study here.

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