Who Do You Believe On Where It Came From?

Who Do You Believe On Where It Came From?

Who do Americans trust about the origins of Coronavirus? An investigation by tippinsights.

Anjali Krishnan
Anjali Krishnan

Stories, speculations, and hypotheses fly thick regarding the origins of the Coronavirus and the actual cause of the Covid-19 outbreak. While there is smoke enough to suggest a fire, it is as yet too early to pin the blame on any entity.

A TIPP Poll conducted in late May asked a cross-section of Americans which sources they trusted the most when it came to information regarding the origin of the Coronavirus. It is heartening to note that Americans are clear about who they trust and have chosen wisely, despite the partisan debates and raging rhetoric.

We asked our survey participants to rate six entities to the question, "How much trust do you put in the opinions of the following entities when it comes to the origin of coronavirus?" The answer choices were A lot of trust, quite a bit of trust, little trust, no trust at all, and not sure.

The combined share of respondents who say a lot of trust or quite a bit of trust reads:

  • 62% - American scientists
  • 49% - The WHO
  • 44% - U.S. government
  • 36% - News media
  • 31% - Chinese whistleblowers
  • 19% - Chinese government.

A whopping majority believed American scientists are the best source to trust regarding this new disease; half paid heed to the World Health Organisation. Almost as many trust the U.S. government.

The deeply divisive fallout of the conversation around the Coronavirus is evident in the markedly distinct response based on the respondents’ political leanings. While Democrats express more faith in the various institutions cited, Republicans and Independents have little trust to spare for any of the institutions or groups mentioned.

The Chinese government is the least trusted of all options presented to the survey participants. But, that is not a surprise. Overall only 19% found it trustworthy. Yet, some sections expressed significantly more faith in them. They are:

  • 34% of 25-44 year-olds
  • 32% of above $75K income
  • 30% of Democrats

It is interesting to note that Americans between the ages of 25-44 placed much more faith in the various institutions than the rest of our respondents.  The percentage of trust this demographic places in the various options:

  • 62% - American scientists
  • 59% - The WHO
  • 51% - U.S. government
  • 45% - News media
  • 41% - Chinese whistleblowers
  • 34% - Chinese government.

The same trend can be spotted among those with income above $75K.

About a third of the Americans polled placed their trust in the Chinese whistleblowers. They were, in fact, some of the first to bring the Coronavirus to the attention of the world.

Our data is a pointer to some irrefutable implications.

China is experiencing a colossal trust deficit for its lack of transparency and withholding of data related to Coronavirus origins and its spread. The world was outraged to learn that China encouraged foreign travel even as it shut down domestic traffic once the outbreak was confirmed. The country harbors hope to become a superpower. But China's handling of the Covid-19 shows that it has a long way to go before it can be a trusted partner or ally on the world stage.

Many feel the WHO should have taken a tougher stand against China right from the outset of the pandemic. The independent world body attempted to unify the world to fight the spread, but its efforts have yielded mixed results. With more damning reports emerging weekly, it is hoped the organization will play a commanding role in bringing about a full and fair investigation into how the world fell into the clutches of a pandemic.

While the virus's origin continues to be a hotly debated topic, with scientists and governments calling for a deeper probe and also demanding more transparency and data from China, it is most prudent to listen to those who probably know best – the scientists. And we are happy to note, Americans are indeed listening to them.

Raghavan Mayur contributed to this report.  A few stats on the charts and written text may not match due to rounding.

TIPP Takes

Malaysia To Summon Chinese Envoy Over ‘Suspicious’ Air Force Activity

  • The foreign ministry of Malaysia said it would summon China's envoy to explain an "intrusion" by 16 air force planes into its airspace, after the South-east Asian country's military detected "suspicious" activity over the South China Sea.
  • Malaysia's air force said it scrambled jets to conduct visual confirmation after the planes flew within 60 nautical miles off Sarawak state of Malaysian Borneo.
  • It described the incident as a "serious threat to national sovereignty and flight safety."
  • Last year, a Chinese survey ship held a month-long standoff with a Malaysian oil exploration vessel within Malaysia's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
  • Malaysia's move follows months of diplomatic protests by the Philippines over the presence of hundreds of Chinese fishing boats in its Exclusive Economic Zone, which it says are manned by militia.

Can The Three-Child Policy Solve China's Demographic Crisis?

  • Many Chinese women remain critical of the government's attempt to reverse the result of its decades-long family planning policy.
  • Before introducing the three-child policy, China strictly carried out the one-child policy for decades before relaxing it in late 2015 by implementing the two-child policy.
  • The measure didn't help to boost the fertility rate in the country significantly. Recent data shows that China's fertility rate in 2020 was 1.3 children per woman, making it on par with other aging societies like Japan and Italy.
  • Some women in China view the three-child policy as a remedy that goes in a different direction from their own family planning blueprint.
  • Other women highlighted the high cost of raising children in major cities in China as another reason why they won't consider complying with the government's three-child policy.
  • Some think the Chinese government is now getting a taste of its own medicine after enforcing strict family planning policies for decades.

Why Are Protestors In Ethiopia And Mali Waving Russian Flags?

  • More than 10,000 people gathered in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Abeba, to protest the U.S. meddling in the country's affairs.
  • Washington announced sanctions on several Ethiopian and Eritrean officials over the conflict in the Tigray region last week.
  • Demonstrators also carried banners bearing the photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as they chanted against ‘America’s aggression.’
  • It was the second time in three days that Russia, which had had a limited role in Africa until its 2017 intervention in the Central African Republic, was receiving favorable sentiments at a political rally in Africa.
  • Protestors at a pro-army march in Bamako, Mali’s capital, on Thursday waved Russian flags as they showed support for Colonel Assimi Goita, who declared himself President after dismissing transitional leader Bah Ndaw.
  • They also waved placards denouncing former colonial ruler France, which maintains a sizeable military presence in the Sahel country beset by coups and a militant insurgency.

New Zealand And NASA Partner Up, Allowing Aotearoa To Grow Space Industry, Minister Says

  • New Zealand and NASA have partnered up under the multi-lateral Artemis Accords, in an effort to enhance space exploration efforts.
  • The Accords guide peaceful exploration of space, transparency of activities and rules around scientific discoveries, and the utilization of space resources.
  • Minister for Economic and Regional Development Stuart Nash said the agreement would allow New Zealand to grow its space industry, currently worth $1.7 billion.
  • New Zealand is the 11th signatory [of the Artemis Accords] alongside Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Ukraine.


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