Imperial College London

Open data hub launches to track global responses to COVID-19

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A graphic of the globe with a depiction of data

Imperial College London has launched a new survey to track how populations are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Led by the College’s Institute of Global Health Innovation and in partnership with YouGov, the survey will collect responses from 30,000 people from 29* countries every week.

The data will be integrated with information about the government safety policies, COVID-19 cases and deaths in each country and shared freely with the public, researchers and policy-makers in anonymised form through an online hub.

The project is exploring over time the public’s attitudes towards government COVID-19 safety measures. By generating and sharing one of the most comprehensive datasets of its kind, the work aims to facilitate a better understanding of the effectiveness of policies in curbing the spread of coronavirus and empower governments to plan their actions based on evidence.

The questions are gathering self-reported data on coronavirus testing and COVID-19 symptoms, and tracking compliance with preventative measures implemented to limit the spread of coronavirus such as self-isolation, avoiding travel and social gatherings. Other relevant behaviours surveyed include frequency of hand washing, use of hand sanitizer and contact with other people.

The first insights gathered from the data include:

  • Almost 9 in 10 people (90%) in the UK are leaving home less than once a day, and 2 in 3 (62%) say that they aren't meeting anyone outside of their homes
  • Face mask use was found to vary considerably across countries. In the  UK fewer 1 in 10 (8%) report always wearing a face mask in public, compared with 1 in 5 (19%) in the US, and 4 out of 5 in both China (80%) and Italy (74%)
  • In the UK more than 4 in 5 (84%) people report they are now avoiding small social gatherings (of 2 or fewer), versus only 3 in 5 (60%) in the USA and 1 in 3 in Sweden (34%)
  • Less than half in the US (47%) reported avoiding working outside the home, compared with 2 out of 3 people In the UK (63%), France (64%) and Spain (69%) doing so
  • The two most commonly reported behaviours are: “Avoiding large size gatherings (greater than 10 people)” and “Avoiding contact with people who have symptoms or you think may have been exposed to the coronavirus”. In all countries surveyed, over 60% reported “always” following these measures

Dr David Nabarro, Co-Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation and one of 6 WHO Special Envoys for coronavirus, said: “The knowledge offered by this resource will be immensely useful to countries across the globe as they plan their ongoing strategies to tackle this devastating pandemic.

"It’s imperative that government actions to manage this crisis are driven by evidence, and insights gathered by data such as these will be critical in furthering our understanding of how the outbreak - and populations’ responses - are evolving over time.”

Data will be continually added to the online tool as survey responses are collected. Initial data has been collected from 13 countries including the UK, US, Spain, Germany, Italy, China and Singapore. The second phase of the project, due to launch this week, will survey a further 16 nations including Denmark, Norway, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The partnership will also work with individual countries to tailor the survey questions weekly to meet public health experts’ specific knowledge needs.

Melanie Leis, Director of IGHI’s Big Data and Analytical Unit, said: “The richness of these data will offer unparalleled insights into how populations are behaving in response to government measures and, ultimately, should enable a better understanding of the spread of coronavirus.

“By opening up this valuable data asset to all, researchers, health ministers, policy-makers and stakeholders in key public health organisations across the globe can use these insights to guide decision-making and tailor responses to individual countries’ needs.”

Stephan Shakespeare, CEO and co-founder of YouGov, said: “YouGov is in the privileged position of having over a hundred thousand people all over the world share their views and behaviours with us every day. With COVID-19 taking hold across the globe it is only right that we put this privilege to positive use.

“By working with experts at the Institute of Global Health Innovation to collect behavioural data from across the globe we can help them – and others like them – better understand how people across the world are responding to COVID-19.

“To help public health agencies’ response to the crisis across the globe we are providing them with data focusing on civic compliance free of charge. We hope that by helping those leading the charge against this disease in this way will make some small difference.”

Notes

* The 29 countries included in the survey are as follows: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the UAE and Vietnam.

Surveys will be completed by nationally-representative sample sizes, ranging from 2000 to 150.

The data dashboard can be accessed at www.coviddatahub.com

The data are available on GitHub and can be accessed through this link.

Researchers, policy-makers and other collaborators can contact the research and policy team at Imperial College London using this link

Reporter

Justine Alford

Justine Alford
Institute of Global Health Innovation

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 1484
Email: j.alford@imperial.ac.uk

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