The health concern over COVID-19 in February 2022 decreased from January 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.

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

COVID-19 concern increases marginally in the second week of February

The health concern over COVID-19 in February 2022 averaged at 33.4% declining from 40.5% recorded in January 2022. The concern during the first week of February averaged at 35% compared to 42.7% in the last week of January.

The number of new COVID-19 cases reported between 31 January and 06 February decreased by 17% from the previous week. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that five major regions globally including the Americas, the South-East Asia region and the African region reported 36%, 32% and 22% decrease in the number of new cases, respectively. The Omicron variant continues to account for the majority of the new cases reported, while all other variants of concern (VOCs) continue to decline.

COVID concern in the second week of February increased marginally to 36.2% although the number of new cases between 07 to 13 February continued to decline by 19% from the previous week. The Western Pacific region reported an increase of 19% in the number of new weekly cases, while the remaining five regions reported decreases.

Concern declines to lowest levels in the third week of February

The health concern decreased to the lowest levels witnessed since the start of the poll in the third week of February to 30.14%. The number of new cases between 14 February and 20 February declined by 21% compared to the previous week. Furthermore, the number of deaths continued a declining trend reporting a decrease of 8% from the previous week. All regions reported a decline in new cases except for the Western Pacific region.

The WHO noted that the weekly number of Omicron sequences submitted to the GISAID, a global initiative on sharing all influenza data, has been steadily declining since the beginning of 2022 although the variant currently accounts for the majority of the new cases reported globally. The trend, however, should be interpreted with caution due to delays associated with specimen collection and submission of sequences to GISAID, the WHO added. Furthermore, some countries may have made changes to their testing and sequencing policies.

The COVID-19 concern increased marginally to 32.17% in the fourth week. The number of new cases and deaths globally continued to decline by 16% and 10% respectively between 21 February and 27 February from the previous week. Five regions reported a decline in new cases with the Eastern Mediterranean region reporting the largest decline of 34%, followed by the Americas (30%). The Western Pacific region, however, continued to report an increase in the number of cases at 32%.

The analysis is based on a total of 685 responses received from the readers of Verdict network sites between 01 and 28 February 2022.