Swiss worry more about antibiotic resistance and cancer than Covid-19

Despite how much the pandemic has impacted everyday life, Swiss people are less worried about Covid-19 than they are about cancer and mental illness. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

In a recent survey, Swiss say the pandemic poses less of a risk to society than mental illness and antibiotic resistance. Around 60% say they will most likely get vaccinated against Covid-19.

This content was published on August 20, 2020

The study, commissioned by CSS Health Insurance, took the pulse of 4,200 people from all over the country at the beginning of June – immediately after the first wave of the pandemic.

Despite the survey timing, only 0.6% of those surveyed said that Covid-19 was the disease they were most afraid of. Of far greater concern was cancer (36%), dementia (17%) and cardiovascular disease (6%). This may partly be explained by the fact that only 0.3% said a coronavirus infection had been their most serious experience of illness to date.

The study authors said that “for the time being the extensive containment” of the coronavirus in a relatively short period of time helped strengthen confidence in public health.

Overall, 38% of respondents felt that pandemics pose a major risk to society, behind mental illness, for example (63%). In contrast, 72% of those surveyed believed antibiotic resistance was a greater risk. More than half (53%) considered drinking water contaminated with hormones and pesticides to be a major risk.

The survey found some interesting differences across regions. In the German-speaking part of Switzerland, about half of the respondents stated that, in the case of unknown symptoms, they would first wait to see whether they would disappear on their own. Much fewer in the French- and Italian-speaking parts of the country take a wait-and-see approach.

About 33% of those surveyed indicated they would definitely get vaccinated against the coronavirus and another 30% would probably do so if a vaccine were available. The willingness to be vaccinated is particularly high among older groups.

The survey was conducted by Sotomo research centre in June. A first sample was surveyed in March.

Effects on youth

In a separate surveyExternal link conducted by the University of Zurich, young people appeared to be coping despite disruptions to their studies and working lives.

Since 2004, the “Zurich Project on Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood”, called z-Proso, has been following the life of young people in Zurich. In the latest survey, the z-Proso team asked around 700 participants in April how the coronavirus crisis affected their everyday lives.

With the gradual easing of measures in May, around four out of ten participants said their lives had been severely derailed, while one in three stated that their life was not seriously affected.

Many indicated that they suffered not being able to see friends and family during the lockdown period but some 75% considered the public health measures to be fair and effective and agreed with them. Some views changed over time though. Two-thirds of respondents in April felt that it was wrong not to observe social distancing while fewer than 40% thought so in May.

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