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.
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