COVID-19 affects us all — unequally. Lessons from Austria

Social housing in Vienna [image by Hadi]

The Austrian Corona-Panel Project

But what is normal? How have Austrians been impacted by the Corona crisis? How does it affect different groups differently? In order to study this, we set up a panel survey right when the measures kicked in. Since the last week of March, a representative sample of 1,500 Austrians have been asked a set of questions at regular intervals: What does their work and home life look like? What has changed since the beginning of the crisis? How has their physical and mental wellbeing been affected? Where do they get their information from? Who do they trust? What is their view of the measures put in place by the government? Are they too strict, or not strict enough? Do Austrians comply with them?

What we have found so far

So, what have we found so far? It will take us a while to get to the bottom of everything (and none of us has got a lot of sleep over these last few weeks), but these are what we consider the most important findings so far:

What should be done?

These findings show that despite the government’s best effort to cushion people from some the worst impact of the COVID-19 crisis, there is still much to do. If children, large families, and single parents are hit particularly hard by the lockdown, does it make sense to open businesses and leave schools and kindergartens closed? How will those going back to work organise their childcare? And, as temperatures are rising, will those stuck in small flats without balconies “stick to the rules” and leave the house only for essential errands? And there are also further questions for researchers to explore: The longer the lockdown continues, are people likely to put privacy concerns aside if apps allow them to move around more freely? Or are they becoming more critical of government actions?

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Barbara Prainsack

Barbara Prainsack

I'm interested in all things bioscience, medicine & society. For more on our solidarity work, see https://barbaraprainsack.wordpress.com/about/