Perception of government performance during COVID-19 not linked to death rate.

People living in the United States are more likely to report that their government handled the
COVID-19 pandemic ‘well’ than any other G7 nation despite having the highest death rate,
according to a new report from the Global Listening Project. Researchers from the Global Listening Project conducted surveys with over 70,000 people
from 70 countries in an effort to understand how public trust in governments and health
policies has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They found that public perception of government performance during the pandemic was not
linked to the severity of the disease in that country. Instead, trust in governments, the
appropriateness of COVID-19 control measures, and trust in other related institutions and
individuals determined public assessment of the Covid response.
Half of respondents from the US thought that their government handled the pandemic well or
extremely well, compared to only 12% of those living in Japan. This is despite the US having
the highest COVID-19 death rate of any G7 nation and Japan having the lowest. Overall,
within the G7, less than half of the population felt their government handled the pandemic

Globally, people living in the Middle East and North Africa were most likely to positively
describe their government’s pandemic response (71% of those surveyed), whilst those in
Europe were least likely to do so (32% of those surveyed).
The global population is more likely (68%) to report confidence in their personal ability to
cope and confidence in their society pulling together (63%) during a crisis, than having
confidence in their country’s capacity to respond to another major crisis (51%). Over half of
the global population reported that transparent decision should be the top priority for
governments in the event of another major crisis.

Professor Heidi Larson, Chair of the Global Listening Project and Director, The
Vaccine Confidence Project said:

“Public trust is absolutely key to global health security, without trust scepticism, mis- and dis-
information flourish, undermining societies’ abilities to prepare and respond to crises.
Despite this, global and national strategies to prepare for future crises, including pandemics,
do not adequately take into account the views of citizens. Emergency and disaster
preparedness plans too often assume that instructions from authorities will be followed and
expert opinion will be heeded.”

Larson added, “At this week’s Munich Security Conference, trust will undoubtedly dominate
the conversations. World leaders are increasingly acknowledging the trust problem – also a
key theme at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, but they are not talking
about ways to identify actionable measures to address this fundamental issue which is
foundational for global and human security. When trust increases, individuals are more likely
to cooperate with governments and institutions, and with each other - particularly important
in times of crisis.” 

As poignantly noted by President of the Un General Assembly, Dennis Francis, “Trust in
science, trust in governments, trust in institutions, trust in each other—all found themselves
compromised (during Covid-19)… It is absolutely imperative that we restore it, in the interest
of not only public health but importantly, in the wider frame of societal stability.”
Ahead of the Munich Security Conference this weekend, this launch of the Global Listening
Project’s open-access global data set will be followed by a series of issue-specific analyses,
podcasts and round-tables to be published and broadcast over the coming months. The
Global Listening Project is a new initiative to bring the voices of people to policy makers,
strengthening future preparedness by providing compelling insights into real problems and
situations faced by real people.

About the GLP
The Global Listening Project is a new initiative, born out of the Vaccines Confidence Project, dedicated to driving real understanding and positive action to better prepare society for times of crisis. We use listening and dialogue to enable cooperation, cohesion, and greater security. Co-Founders Professors Heidi Larson & Pierre Van Damme built the Global Listening Project as a resource to fill this gap: to pinpoint trust issues and find solutions about what to do about them. 

Initial funding has been generously provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline, Moderna, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the John C. Martin Foundation.