Essential Research and Roy Morgan: more coronavirus polling

Two new polls suggest early skepticism about the threat posed by coronavirus is fast disappearing.

As reported by The Guardian, Essential Research has unusually conducted a new poll just a week after the last. This effectively replicates last week’s suite of questions on coronavirus to tie in with an online forum later today involving The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy and Essential Research’s Peter Lewis.

The results show a sharp rise in concern since last week, with 53% now saying they are very concerned, after the three previous fortnightly polls had it progressing from 25% to 27% to 39%. Only 18% now say they consider there has been an overreaction to the thread, down from 33% last week, while 43% now think the threat has been underestimated, up from 28%. These results imply little change to last week’s finding that 39% thought the response about right, though we will presumably have to await publication of the full report later today for a complete set of numbers. The poll also finds overwhelming support for the restrictive measures that have been taken. The rise in concern appears to have been matched by a decline in skepticism about media reportage, which 42% now say they trust, up from 35% last week.

Also out today is a Roy Morgan SMS poll on coronavirus, showing 43% support for the view that the federal government is handling the crisis well with 49% disagreeing — a rather weak result by international standards (it is noted that a similar poll in the United Kingdom a bit under a fortnight ago had it at 49% and 37%). This poll finds an even higher pitch of public concern than Essential, in that only 15% believed the threat to be exaggerated, with fully 81% disagreeing. Relatedly, 80% said they were willing to sacrifice some of their “human rights” to help prevent the spread of the virus (evidently having a somewhat different conception of that term from my own), with only 14% disagreeing. The poll was conducted on Saturday and Sunday from a sample of 988.

UPDATE: Full report from Essential Research here. The recorded increase in concern about the virus is not matched by a change in perceptions of the government’s handling of it, which 45% rate as good, unchanged on last week, and 31% rate as poor, up two. There is also a question on concern about climate change, which refutes the hopes of some conservative commentators in suggesting it has not been affected by the coronavirus crisis: 31% say they are more concerned than they were a year ago, 53% no more or less so, and 16% less concerned. However, the number of respondents saying Australia is not doing enough to address climate change is down from 60% in November to 55%, with doing enough up one to 23% and doing too much up one to 9%. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1086.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

2,376 comments on “Essential Research and Roy Morgan: more coronavirus polling”

  1. Caf, if a cure was found tomorrow, how does that fit in with the “everything is exponential” view?

    A cure – let’s be fanciful and say it’s carrot juice – is a major disruption, one leading to zero cases within a week. Utterly independent of current cases.

    Winding back the fanciful disruptions, we still have many disruptions to consider. I listed some, and you have re-quoted them.

    I can’t see how this can be compounded into a simple formula. Especially as this formula seems to change daily (with straight faces).

  2. I have a huge amount of respect for the Queensland premier and as a proud resident of the Sunshine State I believe she has done a lot of good things for workers after the LNP 2012 – 2015 debacle.

    However, her apparent backdown on the pay rise for public servants is a huge kick in the guts for a lot of hard working Queenslanders. I hope she has something planned but if this was her “ captains call” then it was a total fuckup.

    Doctors, nurses, teachers etc who have put their own health on the line will miss out. Thousands of low paid workers relying on the extra money will be hurt badly by this.

    I hope the Premier has not simply rolled over as a result of the pissant noise from right wing commentators and the Murdoch Courier Mail. I hope she has thought this through. If not then big fail.

  3. Late Riser @ #2047 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 5:15 pm

    The variable is changing daily, as one curve-fit is replaced by another. Isn’t this akin to rewriting history?

    Are you perhaps missing the point of the curve fitting?

    We don’t know what is happening, but we can attempt to understand it by plotting a graph and drawing a line using those points. As each new point is added you revisit your line, looking for a better understanding. I don’t call that re-writing history.

    It’s learning from history.

  4. “Cud Chewersays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    We should have been doing random testing two weeks ago.”

    This comment Cud – as useful as me wanting a pony. There was a physical limit to the testing that could be done.

  5. Late Riser:

    FWIW, I don’t think it’s worth trying to back-fit all of the old data points to a single function. Instead, it’s a piecewise series of connected exponential functions, and by far the easiest way to fit that is to take the plot of log(cases) against time and fit a series of straight lines to it.

  6. If we want to know what happens after suppression, please take a look at the UK modelling I linked to earlier on. They have modelled to late 2021. One would need to look at their earlier models to see what 6 months of suppression does. They are looking at longer-term suppression strategies now.

    So far as I can see, Australia will need longer-term suppression (modulated according to ICU usage perhaps) until either herd immunity occurs, vaccine is developed or effective treatment is identified for severe cases. We can adopt an eradication strategy in Australia perhaps but that would require an alternate parallel strategy in strict quarantine policies as the virus remains endemic elsewhere. One would need Australian modelling to see if the latter approach is predicted to be useful.

  7. “Bushfire Billsays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6:20 pm
    I can’t see how this can be compounded into a simple formula. Especially as this formula seems to change daily (with straight faces).”

    I think we’re all talking at cross purposes a bit. I don’t think anyone here is saying a simple exponential fit is really predictive, particularly as you say when behaviour is changing.

    What people are basically doing is roughly
    1. the exponential fit says tomorrow it will be 6000 people
    2. new data comes in
    3. is it below 6000? Then something has improved. Is it above? Something has got worse
    4. Use the new data to fit a new curve
    5. Repeat

    So if the simple exponential actually was predictive, that would be a bad thing. The more it overestimates, the better.

  8. “No, I’m saying that saying “there should have been more testing 2 weeks ago” is a bit pointless.”

    Its pointing out their past mistakes. Which isn’t much help now.

    “No problem at all with wanting the ability to test to be expanded.”

    Yes, but is the government pulling out all stops to have enough tests to do mass testing? I doubt it, and that worries me.

  9. “Yes, but is the government pulling out all stops to have enough tests to do mass testing? I doubt it, and that worries me.”

    Fair enough. At least for WA, they’re claiming to be increasing the ability to test to 10,000 a day

  10. As at 3:00pm on 2 April 2020, there have been 5,133 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia. There have been 273 new cases since 3:00pm yesterday.

  11. Yes we should have swabbed everyone two weeks ago and then repeated it again this week. That would be a really valuable way of using the resources

  12. Blobbit if WA can do 10,000 per day it should be able to start doing a random sample. And it should be able to test everyone with a sniffle.

  13. OC does raise a good point though.

    Had we swabbed people who fell outside the testing guidelines starting two weeks ago, kept the swabs and then tested these swabs today we’d now have a better idea of what was being missed two weeks ago and thus better models.

  14. Thank you Poroti.
    I don’t know why I engage in this.
    On one side we have an Anorak who spends his days designing fanciful railways and on the other we have a vast array of people who know what they are talking about

  15. “Cud Chewersays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6:31 pm
    Blobbit if WA can do 10,000 per day it should be able to start doing a random sample. And it should be able to test everyone with a sniffle.”

    As I understand it, the number is being ramped up to that value. Previously, it wasn’t able to. Unfortunately, the news report below doesn’t say when it’ll become available.

    “The extra provisions mean health authorities will now be able to conduct approximately 10,000 COVID-19 tests per day.

    The current average is 400 tests per day.”
    https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/health-wellbeing/coronavirus-wa-records-28-new-cases-as-andrew-forrest-donates-160m-for-medical-supplies-c-946538

  16. OC that was not called for.

    Firstly try not to be insulting to people who are, actually, an expert. I’ve patiently answered your questions on HSR and you’ve shown me no respect on the issue.

    Secondly, stop pretending that people who have an expertise in one field cannot form well researched and informed opinions on another topic.

    You don’t think we should test more? Say why. Don’t just keep saying “oh we don’t have enough tests”. That’s pointless.

    If you think there is an exit strategy that doesn’t involve mass testing, then put up or shut up.

  17. This is an interesting podcast on social distancing in the USA, with discussion about how in some places it has divided down political party lines i.e. all the rightwingers in a golf club ignoring directives of one person per golf cart, no handshakes etc, flaunting this in front of the younger more democratic members who are slathering on hand sanitiser and refusing handshakes, The person says it is hard because he is good friends with the (mostly) old guys and does not want them to get sick.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/03/social-distancing-culture/609019/

  18. caf @ #2056 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 5:23 pm

    Late Riser:

    FWIW, I don’t think it’s worth trying to back-fit all of the old data points to a single function. Instead, it’s a piecewise series of connected exponential functions, and by far the easiest way to fit that is to take the plot of log(cases) against time and fit a series of straight lines to it.

    That’s actually what I’ve been doing. But I’m also looking for pieces that have some internal consistency. There was a ‘kink’ (better word?) on March 24. The previous kink was on March 11 and then tracked exponentially for 13 days. Before that it was March 1, and so on. So I’m waiting. In the interim I thought to try a sigmoid function to start to get a handle on the long term trend. It’s not as useful.

  19. E. G. Theodore says:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Scott:

    Has Morrison and Dutton and others in the liberal/national party resign yet

    Morrison and Dutton for the cruiseships fiasco , the biggest breach of health and safety in Australia

    The corollary would have been that Mr Curtin would have had to resign after the bombing of Darwin, which would have helped no-one.

    ————————————————

    Maaate! Give me a break.

    How can you analogize these two events. Curtin was supposed to have put in place air defences to combat the rampaging Japanese war machine at its zenith? You’re probably old enough to remember that this was after Menzies had allowed pig-iron to be sold to Japan. Perhaps the shell casings on those bombs came from Bob’s pig-iron.

    Morrison, Dutton and the AFP watched the Diamond Princess debacle many weeks before and learned nothing.

    And don’t give me their pathetic exculpatory bleat that it was the fault of New South Wales. Since when did NSW cops take over the job of screening the thousands of people who come in through the airports?

    So protecting our borders is the responsibility of the states is it? I’m glad we’ve got that straightened out. That must have been an “on waters” matter that they haven’t told us about.

    Think of the billions of your tax dollars that have been spent by this gang that can’t shoot straight on stopping desperate poor people who pose nothing like the threat of carriers of this insidious disease. It’s likely that Australian people have already died because of the Coalition’s spectactular failure.

    This is a scandal that those Coalition boat stoppers can never live down.

  20. OK Blobbit, I’d like to see what the variables are, quantified.

    ● All the usuals:
    ○R0,
    ○Time,
    ○ infectiousness,
    ○ (whatever)

    ● Social compliance (i.e. respect for isolation laws),

    ● Age demographics,

    ● Geographical layout,

    ● Efficiency of Health System,

    ● Respect for and importance of elders in society,

    ● Many more (not going to list them all again).

  21. An interesting perspective. Remembering that Moses Morrison is getting a lot of praise.

    Are you watching Australia, Morrison praises Unions and State governments, spinning away with nonsensical claptrap, while trying to make federal Labor IRRELEVANT. I can see what he’s doing, can anyone else..

  22. Had we swabbed people who fell outside the testing guidelines starting two weeks ago, kept the swabs and then tested these swabs today we’d now have a better idea of what was being missed two weeks ago and thus better models.

    Truly brilliant but we would have to do it again in another two weeks for completeness

  23. Bushfire Bill:

    Caf, if a cure was found tomorrow, how does that fit in with the “everything is exponential” view?

    If a cure was found the base of the exponential would decrease sharply (because many of the people with the disease you’d find and cure before they infected too many others). Once production of the cure had ramped up sufficiently you’d reduce the base of the exponential below 1 (“negative interest”) and thereby have switched from exponential growth to exponential decay.

  24. Cc
    Actually I think it was. Day after day you come here with no knowledge and pontificate on the same boring, misguided message. You were much more interesting when planning the railway

  25. Meher:

    EG Theodore: “Starting at about 4 minutes 30 second in. Morning of 20 February it was business as usual; they got a COVID19 result back from an unusual ICU patient (young, no risk factors but in ICU) then by the end of 21 February they knew they had an uncontrolled secondary outbreak.

    So they got at most 24 hours warning before the shit hit the fan completely…”

    Yes, but what sort of social distancing measures did Italy have in place at this time? Not many. Indeed, one whole week later, a political leader was encouraging Italians to keep going to the local bar for an aperitivo and “not to change our habits.

    The question was about detection – signals / indications that the situation was about to “go exponential” – social distancing is a suppression measure (which is somewhat effective, no-one knows how effective), it’s not a detection measure. It can slow things down, so one can argue (and I would support this to some extent) that we might get (optimistically) a week’s warning where the Italians got only a day.

    The problem (with a two week incubation period) is that the process (with a weeks warning) has still been underway for a week be the time it’s detected (c.f 13 days in the Italian case). Still going to be a secondary outbreak with exponential behaviour…

    The signal you seem to be describing is a lagging signal of an exponential process that is unfortunately underway, not a leading signal to which one could respond.

    BTW – I am trying to find a real leading signal – that’s what the feedback thing is about.

  26. “Truly brilliant but we would have to do it again in another two weeks for completeness”

    And the problem is? If we need the resources to do so, then we should committ them.

  27. “Bushfire Billsays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6:36 pm
    OK Blobbit, I’d like to see what the variables are, quantified.”

    I’d love to see all that as well

  28. Nicholas

    There’s nothing wrong in being an expert on something. There’s been about 25 person years of work committed to HSR by myself and my associates in the industry.

  29. The thing is, none of those influences – apart from straight out importing or exporting cases – change the simple fact that if you have twice as many people infected, they’ll spread twice as many cases (until a significant proportion of the population has been infected). Shaming Bondi backpackers or changes to public policy may change the base rate of how many get spread per person, but that inherent proportionality of infectors to infectees doesn’t change.

  30. Expert epidemiological mathematical modeller, on The Drum now, in charge of a team of 20 similarly expert advising the government says we’ve dodged a bullet.

    More infections to come, but he’s confident we won’t be overwhelmed given current policy directions.

  31. If Tasmania and the ACT (NT is obviously exceptional) continue to have a handful of new cases a day, when can the restrictions be lightened for them.

  32. ” Day after day you”

    Day after day you make pathetic excuses for our failure to test more.

    And your sole premise appears to be “we don’t have enough tests. We will never have enough tests. Having enough tests is unthinkable.”

    What’s your problem OC? You cannot think the unthinkable? Its inconceivable to you that we could, actually, muster the resources to mass test? Because this is how pathetic you are.

  33. So multiple snapshots in a rapidly developing epidemic is a good use of resources, that are not just limited nationally but globally. Doing a snapshot by definition can not identify all cases.

  34. Oakeshott Country @ #2092 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 6:47 pm

    So multiple snapshots in a rapidly developing epidemic is a good use of resources, that are not just limited nationally but globally. Doing a snapshot by definition can not identify all cases.

    Doing a snapshot will help identify the growth of asymptomatic cases. Something which China is now realizing is important in controlling the epidemic.

  35. “Bushfire Billsays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6:45 pm
    Expert epidemiological mathematical modeller in charge of a team of 20 similarly expert advising the government says we’ve dodged a bullet.

    More infections to come, but he’s confident we won’t be overwhelmed given current policy directions.”

    Is that this story?

    https://theconversation.com/if-coronavirus-cases-dont-grow-any-faster-our-health-system-will-probably-cope-135214

    At the moment, if I had to pick an outcome of either Norway or Sweden, I’d say we’re going to be Norway.

  36. Yes BB I wish CC had listened an expert rather than chase shadows here.
    I really think he doesn’t know the resources required for a single swab

  37. “Doing a snapshot by definition can not identify all cases.”

    But it can answer the question of just how large a gap there is between identified cases and true cases and that means we have a better model.

    We will soon come to the point where the growth in cases has tapered but there is still spread and there are still infections going on that we only know about in hindsight as our testing chases the tail of the virus.

    So what’s your exit strategy, genius?

  38. In case you might be missing our friends from the IPA. Still determined to get blood from every stone.

    Institute of Public Affairs @TheIPA
    · Apr 1
    “If we are ever going to repay this, we have got to be a lot more productive than we have been in the last 10 years. Business as usual will mean that we will never pay back the debt.” – John Roskam in the @australian

    https://theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/coronavirus-trilliondollar-debt-to-rival-postwwii-years/news-story/195f3411d9f2b3cb398ca9532cefaef1

  39. “I really think he doesn’t know the resources required for a single swab”

    What’s the fucking point of that remark, OC?

    If we need the resources, then we should committ them. The alternative is we either remain shut down for a year, or we allow a second wave of infections.

    What’s your exit strategy, genius?

  40. Chewer:

    EGT
    About that video on the initial cases in Italy.
    What really burns is that they too got caught with their pants down on testing guidelines.
    They were only testing people coming from China and it only when they had that young patient and found a secondary cluster that they started testing in the community.
    They should have been out in the community testing well before that.
    We’re making the same mistakes here.

    The secondary outbreak in Italy appears to have involved:
    A – some young and fit people got infected
    B – they infected their older relatives
    C – a few young/fit people turned up in ICU, leading to detection of the outbreak
    D – vast numbers of those infected at b turned up in ICU
    It is reasonable to think that better population testing (such as we have in South Australia) would detect phase B. It would be very difficult to detect phase A (young fit people would be much less compliant), except by testing absolutely everyone (as happened in the Italian town of Vo, and this worked well). The problem is that phase D is baked in by the time that phase B could reasonably be detected.

  41. “Expert epidemiological mathematical modeller in charge of a team of 20 similarly expert advising the government says we’ve dodged a bullet.”

    Bushfire Bill

    The article you quote and the experts quoted in it, are modelling a situation where we remain in shutdown. Do you honestly believe we can remain in shutdown for a year or so?

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