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”

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  1. Speaking for myself, I find Cud’s analysis interesting and insightful. Good-natured and courteous as well. Of course I can’t speak for others on the blog, although some (far less interesting) people seem to think they can.

  2. BB, I have had the joyous experience of being a Sherpa. It’s the not so slang word for officials who have to organise, and then look after an event with overseas VIPs in attendance.

    You end up appreciating what shit the real Sherpas have to put up with. And it gives you an insight into National personality tropes. The Asians are polite. The Europeans not so much. The Middle Eastern have more money than sense. The Anglosphere are complete arseholes.

  3. steve davis @ #2150 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 7:06 pm

    Wonder how many countries will adopt austerity measures when this is all over.The rich wont pay if the Libs are in power.

    steve davis @ #2150 Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 7:06 pm

    Wonder how many countries will adopt austerity measures when this is all over.The rich wont pay if the Libs are in power.

    There’s a thing called political reality. Austerity was only able to be adopted by stealth in the first place.

  4. Grif

    Interesting model. Read the section on limitations. There are far too many assumptions and the world data is far too unreliable. That’s all I’m going to say.

    Yes, I do engage. But I need more than this to be convinced that we are catching every case. Especially in the growing subset of cases where there is no known source. Almost by definition, that unknown source is someone whose infection hasn’t been found.

  5. You know how this virus is now called Vovid-19.

    Whatever happened to 1-18.

    Is this a Star wars franchise in the offing?

  6. ShellBell:

    The Commonwealth does not have power to grab non-illegal property and destroy it

    1 – if the Navy sinks a ship, it will definitely stay sunk!
    2 – given the places these ships are registered and the kinds of people with whom their owners associate, it is only a matter of time and means to establish illegality;
    3 – rule 303!

  7. Late riser, it is attempting to model symptomatic cases. The data on the proportion of asymptomatic cases are less reliable, especially as China was not recording them for a while.

    Cud chewer, agreed; assumptions are always the issue!

  8. Why are certain people here not engaging in the discussion about what we should be doing next?

    Because it’s become increasingly boring and tendentious?

  9. If one swabs both nostrils simultaneously, does that change the equation? Or does one do that anyway?)

    More seriously, is the SA Pathology approach – adding COVID19 to the standard respiratory panel used for all serious respiratory symptoms – now being used in all states (presumably this doesn’t add greatly to costs)

  10. Cruise ships would make most excellent artificial reefs for diving.
    With the effects of climate change we could start a new great barrier reef a bit further south

  11. Shellbell
    ” The Commonwealth does not have power to grab non-illegal property and destroy it ”

    I am no lawyer so I will take your word for it. However there is more than one way to skin a cat. I would have thought there is more than enough justification under health and safe navigation acts to seize the ships, offload the crew, and tie the ships up somewhere (Jervis Bay?) to rot away until all fees owing are paid? The ships are worth $100m to $400 million each, so the Commonwealth will have some leverage.

  12. “Why are certain people here not engaging in the discussion about what we should be doing next?”

    That’s actually a more interesting question.

    I’d agree that more testing would be great. I’m curious as to what the limits there are, and what could be done to increase them.

    First stage, get the rate down to something that’s manageable. That’s where we are now.

    In the absence of a vaccine, opening up is going to be slow. A big problem here wrt testing is the delay between infection and anti-bodies, which seems to make PCR tests the only reliable way of testing.

    Just how fast can a PCR test happen?

  13. “And Australia’s deaths while low have recently started climbing, doubling in the last week.”

    One thing with those is how many are from known sources?

    The concern will be when hospital cases with no known contact start increasing. AFAIK that’s not happening in WA yet.

  14. “Why are certain people here not engaging in the discussion about what we should be doing next?”

    I’m not because I don’t know. I am following the discussion.

  15. It appears that we are starting to achieve broad consensus amongst Australian leaders on the approach to this pandemic now, apart from some messaging blunders, now decreasing (although the very recent NSW/Vic difference in who could visit their ‘partner’ was amusing)

    My concern now is whether there is a consensus on the duration. This is where economics asserts increasing pressure. Without seeing the Australian modelling we are flying blind and we have Fuller in NSW talking 90 days, Morrison talking six months and UK modelling talking significantly more than that again.

    It is a worry.

    Also, if we adopt the eradication approach, what is the endgame? China is at a point of trying to figure that out and it isn’t so simple. Do we then assert a maximum effort quarantine regime?

  16. I find Cud’s analysis interesting and insightful.

    Thank you. Engaging with people does not mean agreeing with them, but I’ll acknowledge that there are things we just don’t know.

    First of all, the relevance of discussing the extent to which current testing is catching all cases is not the absolute number. Rather its about what it means for the end game. If we test sufficiently then we reduce the number of people who are infected per carrier. Reduce that to under 1.0 and the virus dies out. That’s a mathematical certainty.

    What I do not know is precisely how much testing, and what other protocols are sufficient to get to that point. I’m fairly certain its not “every single person, every three days”. But I’m also certain its not what we are doing now. Why? Because we are not testing people until they are quite sick and we are certainly not catching infections that are asymptomatic or where the carrier feels they are just having a bad day/having a cold/whatever.

    And if it were “every single person, every three days”, then so what? What’s a few billion dollars compared to the economic cost of having a “long tail”.

    Another thing I simply don’t know is whether the present level of isolation will itself cut the reinfection rate to under 1.0. What I do know is that absolute isolation absolutely will do this. However, we are not doing that. Is what we are doing, by itself, without further scaling of testing, going to wipe out the virus? I’d love to see that, I really would. But, how do you prove that it is so? Only by mass testing.

    If we continue what we are doing, which is imperfect isolation, and reactive testing (waiting for someone to get sick) then even in the best possible case we’ll see the case count dwindle slowly.. This could take several months. Again, I don’t know. Its not two weeks. It could be many months. Assuming we remain shut down.

    I am confident that technology will come to our rescue. What I don’t know is this final question. Will sanity win out and we start mass testing? Or will we end shutdown too soon? You tell me. That I’d like to know.

  17. LMGTFY

    “The new virus is called SARS-CoV2—and COVID-19 is the name for the disease in humans caused by the new virus, says Dr. Bhuyan. (And that’s short for coronavirus disease 2019, the year it was first identified, she adds.) CO stands for corona, VI is for virus, and D is for disease, the CDC says. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, director-general of the WHO, first announced the official name for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus—COVID-19—in early February 2020.”

  18. This article by a Chinese news outlet, the South China Morning Post, goes into some of the details of the production of COVID-19 testing kits. China does most of the world’s production of these kits, and now that China’s crisis has abated, Chinese demand for the testing kits has slumped, allowing China to provide a greater supply to other nations. But even China can’t meet the current global demand for testing kits. The manufacturing capabilities just don’t exist in sufficient quantities. One of the limitations is that the kits are costly to transport because they need to be stored at a temperature of -20 degrees Celsius.

    Song, at the China Association of In Vitro Diagnostics, estimated that if you combined the capacities of the firms licensed in China and the European Union, enough tests could be made each day to serve 3 million people with a mixture of PCR and antibody tests.

    As of Thursday, the US had tested 552,000 people in total, the White House said. Stephen Sunderland, a partner focused on medical technology at Shanghai-based LEK Consulting, estimated that if the US and European Union were to follow the same level of testing penetration as South Korea, where the testing effort has been heralded, there would be a need for 4 million tests.

    With this in mind, it is unlikely that all the manufacturing capacity in the world could meet demand, at least in the near term.

  19. “And if it were “every single person, every three days”, then so what? What’s a few billion dollars compared to the economic cost of having a “long tail”.”

    That’s not a cost issue though. It’s a “is it possible” issue.

  20. And there is no need to “lure the cruise ships into our territorial waters”. They are already in them. For navigation, security and health purposes sovereignty extends to 24 nm, about 45 km (Under UNCLOS rules). You can see the cluster off Sydney and Perth in this real time cruise ship tracker map. It works off transponders the same as airliner tracker maps.

    “UNCLOS states that the ‘sovereignty of a coastal State extends, beyond its land territory and internal waters and in the case of an archipelagic State, its archipelagic waters, to an adjacent belt of sea described as the territorial sea’. The ‘contiguous zone’ lies adjacent to Australia’s territorial sea and extends up to ‘24 nautical miles from its territorial sea baseline’. Inside that zone, Australia is able to exercise the control necessary to prevent or punish infringements of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations.”
    See also

  21. “Nicholassays:
    Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 8:36 pm
    This article…”

    Thanks for that.

    Also looks like we’ll soon have mass testing of MMT

  22. The definition of exponential is that the rate DOESN’T change. Look it up.

    The system dynamics is fundamentally exponential.* This is based on the biology of viral spread, so it makes sense that we use the same for our model.

    However, we don’t start with a clear idea of the parameters of the system (e.g. growth rate), and in this case, we don’t have a clear view of the state either. So we estimate both empirically.

    In fact, we have a second model, a model of the growth rate. We can pull some policy levers and change some of the parameters of this model. For example, we can reasonably assume that social distancing will reduce the growth rate. We then plug this into our exponential growth model, making it a dynamic model. It is still fundamentally exponential.

    These policies affect the spread of the virus, but not immediately, and we don’t know how with precision. So we can’t really probe the system to understand how our levers affects the system’s parameter, or other features of how it works. This makes it a hard control problem.

    As an aside, we can pull some other levers and unload a literal boatload of cases, and this affects the state of the system. But again, we don’t know exactly how, because we don’t know the state of the boatload of people to start with.

    Plus we are playing with a real, live, deadly virus, so caution is advised.

    * TBH, its based on an approximation of a discrete transmission process over a graph, which is very close to exponential in the large.

  23. Blobbit

    “That’s not a cost issue though. It’s a “is it possible” issue.”

    And that’s precisely what I’d hope our government is working out.
    My own take. Anything not against the laws of physics is possible. Its not like we don’t have hundreds of thousands of unemployed people who can be hired to act as couriers and its not like we can’t put together the web infrastructure to run it. Nor is it impossible for us to hire enough people to do the leg work to track people. Yes its a huge task. But its not unlike running an election or a census.

  24. Cud, the cold storage issue seems to apply specifically to antibody test kits, not the PCR kits.

    “Selling antibody test kits overseas is easy, but no more than five companies in China can sell PCR test kits overseas, because the transport needs an environment at minus 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit),” Zhang said. “If companies asked cold chain logistics to transport, the fee is even higher than the goods they can sell.”

  25. Looks like it isn’t only Scomo and Trump who use the distraction of Covid19 to sneak through some pretty dubious decisions. This decision (to effectively let go most of Daniel Pearl’s murderers) shows that sentiment in the Pakistan establishment still runs strongly in favor of the Wahabists. Trump won’t be pleased, but he is impotent.

  26. Bucephalus, given the japenese bombed darwin with bombs made of iron and steel your comment shows your ignorance. As does the fact shell casings are also made of iron and steel which turns into shrapnel.

  27. “But its not unlike running an election or a census.”

    AFAIKS the issue is with making the test kits as much as anything. The factory in the story Nicholas posted can make 600k a day. Presumably they’ve been doing that awhile.

    I’ve no idea what’s involved in setting up a facility like that, or sourcing the chemical inputs. I doubt it’s something that can be thrown together in a week.

    That may well be an argument to start building it now, but it means it’s probably a year away.

  28. The Australian Government is certainly demonstrating that the limit on what it can do is not a financial limit, because it always, without exception, makes payments simply by keystroking numbers out of thin air, and obviously it can keystroke whatever numbers it likes. The limit is what can be done with the real things available to us.

    For instance, to provide child care to families we need to mobilize a certain amount of child care workers, administrators and managers and trainers who support and supervise and train the child care workers, buildings, and equipment and materials. If we can mobilize enough of those things to provide child care to everyone who wants child care, then we can provide free child care to everyone at all times, not only to certain families during a national emergency. The financial cost is never an obstacle for the Australian Government.

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