The health concern over COVID-19 in March 2022 decreased from February 2022, shows the COVID-19 concern index, which is measured by responses to an ongoing poll Verdict launched in March 2020. The poll has been tracking how the concerns over coronavirus have been changing over time.

The poll asked how concerned the respondents were about the spread of coronavirus and included five options to choose from – very concerned, slightly concerned, neither concerned nor unconcerned, not very concerned, and not concerned.

Concern index is based on respondents who answered that they are very concerned about the spread of COVID-19.

Concern declines during first two weeks, but increases in the third week

COVID-19 health concern averaged at 26.10% in March 2022 declining from 33.4% in February 2022. It averaged at 27.25% during the first week of March compared to 32.17% in the last week of February following the declining trend in the number of new cases and deaths.

New COVID-19 cases and deaths declined by 5% and 8% respectively, between 28 February and 06 March from the previous week, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). More than ten million new cases and more than 52,000 new deaths were reported globally during the week, from across WHO’s six regions.

The Western Pacific region reported an increase of more than 46% in the number of new weekly COVID-19 cases, while all other regions reported decreases. The Eastern Mediterranean region reported a decline of 46% in the number of new weekly cases, followed by the African region (40%), the South-East Asia region (31%), the Americas (24%), and Europe (18%).

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COVID concern in the second week of March declined to 25.85%, despite an uptick in the number of new cases by 8% between 07 and 13 March. The Western Pacific, African and European regions reported increases in new weekly coronavirus cases by 29%, 12% and 2% respectively, compared to the previous week. The Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia and the Americas reported decreases of 24%, 21%, and 20% respectively.

COVID-19 health concern increased to 26.9% in the third week of March, although the number of new weekly COVID-19 cases increased by 7% between 14 and 20 March, compared to the previous week. The Western Pacific region reported a 21% increase in new cases, although the number of new cases remained stable in the European region. The Eastern Mediterranean, African, South-East Asia and Americas regions reported decline of 41%, 33%, 23% and 17%, respectively.

Concern declines towards the end of March

Coronavirus concern remained similar to that in the previous week at 26.09% in the fourth week of March. The number of new cases declined by 14% between 21 and 27 March with all regions reporting a decline in the number of new weekly cases. The Eastern Mediterranean region reported a decline of 32% in the number of new cases, followed by the African region (29%), and the Western Pacific region (24%).

The concern declined further to 24.57% towards the end of March as the number of new cases declined for a second consecutive week by 16% between 28 March and 03 April, compared to the previous week. All regions, including Africa, Europe, the Western Pacific, Americas, South-East Asia, and Eastern Mediterranean reported decreases in the number of new weekly cases by 19%, 16%, 16%, 15%, 5%, and 9%, respectively.

The WHO noted that the decline in new cases may be attributed to a change in testing strategies adopted across various regions. The rate of SARS-CoV-2 testing has declined across WHO’s regions limiting its ability to track the spread of the virus.

The WHO is also tracking the risk from recombinant variants including the XD and XE variants. The XE variant, first detected in January 2022, is estimated to have a community growth rate advantage of 1.1 or transmissibility of 10% compared to the BA.2, a subvariant of the Omicron variant. The findings, however, need further confirmation, according to the WHO.

The analysis is based on a total of 772 responses received from the readers of Verdict network sites between 01 and 31 March 2022.