UAntwerp’s Big Corona Study yields some remarkable findings again

April 21st 2020

Almost one in five people with a suspected COVID-19 infection stated in UAntwerp’s Big Corona Study that they still went out without extra protection. One in three participants says they have to make do with less income. 

On Tuesday 21 April, just under 170,000 Belgians took ten minutes to participate in the Big Corona Study, an initiative of the University of Antwerp, supported by KU Leuven, UHasselt and ULB. ‘That is fewer respondents than during the first five weeks of the questionnaire’, social scientist Koen Pepermans says. ‘There is definitely a kind of corona fatigue in society. This was also shown in research by the polling company Dedicated last weekend: 44 per cent of people said that the virus gets too much attention.’ 

On the other hand, a questionnaire with 170,000 participants, and 15,000 people who filled in the questions partially, provides a very rich source of information, which the scientists can immediately use for further research. The data can be used to make better predictions based on simulation models, and to better estimate the health, economic and psychosocial impact of the evolving epidemic and its measures. 

Pepermans: ‘This also allows us to better inform politicians.  So the questionnaire definitely remains highly relevant. By the way, this time there more than 19,000 respondents (11%) who filled in the questionnaire for the first time.’  

One in three makes do with less 

The analysis of such a questionnaire takes a long time in normal times, but the scientists have already filtered some interesting findings from the sixth wave. 

  • More and more people are confronted with COVID-19 in their immediate environment: almost half of participants know someone who has been seriously ill, 15% know someone who has been hospitalised and 9% know someone who has died (figures overlap, of course).  

  • 20% of respondents reported at least one possible symptom (coughing, fever, sneezing, fatigue, etc.) of the disease.  

  • Those 20% are people with suspected infection. They were asked during the questionnaire whether they had gone into quarantine: 43% said that they did not quarantine themselves. 18% still went outside without extra protection, 12% did so with protection such as a mask.  

  • For the first time, the questionnaire also enquired about the income of the participants: 32% said that their total disposable income (wages, benefits, etc.) decreased during the corona crisis. 24% of the participating white-collar and 50% of the blue-collar workers report that they are technically unemployed. 40% of the self-employed and liberal professionals say they cannot work at the moment. 

Those interested in the wide range of interesting results from the Big Corona Study can now visit https://corona-studie.shinyapps.io/corona-studie/. This new website shows a lot of graphs on the different sub-aspects of the questionnaire. Interested parties can thus easily see the evolution of a particular aspect over the weeks. The website is best consulted on a computer. The user-friendliness on smartphone is still being worked on.