As society and the media reacted to the epidemic to the coronavirus

As during a pandemic, people refer to doctors and authorities, why are willing to wash their hands, but rarely vaccinated, who are more worried because of the news about the disease and what’s wrong with comparing virus epidemics like the Spanish flu? The paper recounts the findings of international research on epidemics and pandemics.

Как общество и СМИ реагировали на эпидемии до коронавируса

Photo: shutterstock

Fear of contagion is tied to how actively people watching the news

Interest in the news about pandemic correlates with fear of infection. Scientists analyzed two surveys of US residents, came to the conclusion that how closely the person follows the information about the outbreak of “swine” influenza N1H1, due to his level of concern. At the same time, emphasize the researchers, it is unclear what is the cause and what is effect: people are more afraid of, because I read much news or read many news that are concerned about the spread of the disease.

In addition, as shown by the results, most pandemic was scared of certain social groups: for example, women, people over 65 and those with large families (with six or more children).

  • The study is based on two surveys. Each of them has taken part more than 1 thousand people. The first survey was held in early may 2009, when the first wave of N1H1 began to decline. The second in late August of 2009, when the activity of the virus and the news agenda associated with it, again gaining momentum.

Fakes during an epidemic can spread is better than real news. To deal with them help the algorithms and comments

Rumors and fake news on medical subjects are often distributed better than the real story. Researchers for example, news about the zika virus in 2016-2017 estimated that false information was three times more reposts than truthful.

Of the ten most popular news about the virus in 2016, half could be classified as fake. In addition, fake news often depicted zika virus as a minor threat, or as a conspiracy against society.

  • The authors of the study, every month from February 2016 to January 2017 selected the ten most popular stories of zika virus with the help of special service. Thus, the total sample for the year consisted of 120 stories. The analysis was performed in three stages: verification of information (confirmed, rumor or joke), the number of reposts of material and thematic analysis of the headlines.

During the influenza pandemic 2009 most people wash their hands and disinfecting things, but vaccination has made a few

The feeling of risk, level of concern and trust in media and authorities associated with the way people follow the recommendations. This is the conclusion reached by scientists who conducted a survey among Italians during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

More than 60% of respondents said that they have to wash your hands with soap more often than usual; approximately four out of ten people — cover your nose and mouth with a tissue for a runny nose and cough, and one third to disinfect the objects that regularly touched. The percentage of respondents who were vaccinated in Italy was low — only about 2.8 %. According to the study, people started to actively follow the guidelines under the influence of psychological factors such as trust or risk perception.

  • The researchers conducted telephone interviews of 1,010 Italians over the age of 18 from Central, southern, Northern Italy and from the Islands. At the time of the study, in Italy there were 228 deaths from the virus. By this time the main wave of infection has passed, but the Ministry of health expected the second peak.

Panic message about the pandemic and comparisons with the more tragic events can lead to the reluctance of people to be vaccinated

Pandemic influenza H1N1 in 2009 have not caused mass panic, although it led to a number of changes in the behavior of people. As noted in the conducted in France, the study confirms the relative failure of vaccination campaigns in the country. Scientists believe that this relatively relaxed attitude of the French to the pandemic is because their expectations did not coincide with a reality that was less tragic.

The opinion about the pandemic could affect the panic message about the threat of the virus, often containing comparisons with other historical events — in particular the epidemic of “Spanish flu” of 1918. Such alarmist representation of the pandemic did not match the reality, which in turn influenced the response from the companies.

  • The study is based on the results of surveys conducted before and during a pandemic and a month after the start of vaccination campaigns, as well as on the analysis of media in France and international scientific media. In addition, the method of sequence analysis, particularly the theory of diffusion of innovations and social representation.

Anxiety and confidence determine how far people are willing to take precautions during a pandemic

The authors of the study conducted in the Netherlands, drew attention to how varied people’s attitudes to the H1N1 pandemic in the initial phase: from may to August 2009. As shown by three surveys, the level of knowledge about the disease during this time has increased, but the perceived seriousness of the flu, anxiety level and sense of efficacy of its action have fallen. Decreased and the level of confidence of the information that was received from the government.

Most likely to comply with prevention measures were prepared older people, respondents with high levels of anxiety, and those who perceived the disease worse, no longer trust official information and believed in the efficacy of precautions.

  • The researchers used online surveys that were conducted in the period from 30 April to 20 August 2009. The first survey was launched when the Netherlands was one case, and the latter when it was confirmed more than 1 thousand cases of infection.

The inhabitants tend to dramatize what is happening — and to divide others into heroes, villains and victims

During epidemics of different teams — for example, groups of people, organizations or whole countries — perform a symbolic function and helps the inhabitants to cope with uncertainty. Swiss scientists have found that during a pandemic “swine” flu are groups perceived as either villains or as heroes, or as victims.

“Heroes” became doctors and scientists, to whom the society trusted in the first place. The researchers observed a positive attitude towards health authorities, to a lesser extent, to the officials and States, as their actions are not always perceived as effective.

As “villains”, the respondents often described the media and private companies (e.g., pharmacological) that could profit from the pandemic. And as “victims” of poor and underdeveloped countries that at the same time been blamed for lack of hygiene, discipline and culture leading to the development of infectious diseases.

  • The researchers conducted 47 semi-structured interviews of full-time, most of which occurred in may and June 2009. Among the respondents there were 22 women and 25 men aged 18 to 75 years.

During a pandemic “swine” influenza media wrote more about the dangers of the disease than on prevention

The authors of the review, devoted to the representation of H1N1 in the media, you notice that the 2009 pandemic has received enormous coverage. Attention to the situation in the media did not grow in proportion to the number of cases and increased against the background of significant events: for example, the peaks were at the beginning of the outbreak, after the announcement of the pandemic and after the start of mass vaccination.

In most stories, a new type of flu was seen as a threat, and journalists focused on the seriousness of the disease and vulnerability to it. With this precaution — even though they were the second most popular topic was discussed much less.

As the authors of the review, in most cases, the media adhere to a neutral tone in the coverage of the pandemic. But two studies revealed that the agenda was dominated by the panic message. According to the authors, this difference in findings may be due to, among other things, differences in cultures and approach to the news.

  • The review was based on 13 scientific articles devoted to the display of H1N1 in different media: Newspapers, radio, social networks, YouTube, blogs and on television. The review covers articles published in the databases Web of Science and EBSCO Host. All studies used qualitative methodology.
  • As reported ForumDaily:

    • A new virus was discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. In 2020 it covers all continents except Antarctica. On 11 March, the President of the United States Donald trump has imposed a ban on entry into the United States from the EU. The ban came into force on Friday, March 13, and will last at least 30 days. In particular, it will affect people visiting the Schengen area for the last 14 days.
    • On 13 March, the tramp of coronavirus introduced in the U.S. nationwide state of emergency.
    • March 11, the who declared the situation with coronavirus pandemic, covering more than 110 countries. With symptoms COVID-19 caused by a coronavirus, can be found here.
    • The virologist’s advice on how to protect themselves from infection — the link.
    • Using the panic in the society because of the epidemic, the scammers have come up with several schemes to get victims ‘ personal data and money. The most common ones can be found here.
    • Panicked due to emergency, Americans are buying up large quantities of toilet paper, but can’t explain why it during an outbreak.
    • Trump has signed a law granting paid leave due to the coronavirus. Who can count on paid holidays, please click here.
    • All the news about the coronavirus please refer to our special projects.


the study


The world