The Coronation of Austria: Part 14

By Barbara Prainsack, Bernhard Kittel, Sylvia Kritzinger, and Hajo Boomgaarden, on behalf of the Austrian Corona Panel Project, University of Vienna, Austria [contact: coronapanel2020@univie.ac.at]

Covid-19 wise, things could be better in Austria. New infection rates have risen throughout February, and while free testing opportunities are widely available, calling the vaccination rollout “slow” would be an understatement: Fewer than 6% of the Austrian population had received their first dose by 1 March. At the same time, as noted by Markus Pollak, Nikolaus Kowarz and Julia Partheymüller in part IV of the Austrian Covid-19 chronology, February has seen some distractions of the political leadership from crisis management: Tensions within the Conservative and Green coalition government have increased, due to (among other things) suspicions of corruption faced by Finance Minister Gernot Blümel, a member of the Conservative Austrian People’s Party led by Chancellor Kurz.

Trust in government, and in the public healthcare system

In our previous updates from the Austrian Corona Panel Project we already drew attention to the decreasing trust in the crisis management of the government. Our latest data collected in February shows that this decline is continuing: Trust in the federal government, and also in the public healthcare system, is considerably lower than at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. Trust in the government has, however, dropped much more (from 75% in March 2020 to 38% in February 2021) than trust in the public healthcare system (from 80% to 63%).

Covid-19 “just a normal flu”? 16% still think it is

With a little help from my friends…?

[image: Margarethe Prainsack]

This resonates with findings from our qualitative sister study showing how, already prior to the second lockdown in October 2020, many people felt too tired and depleted to stick to the rules. It also resonates with our own findings: in December 2020; one in two of our respondents said they could no longer (economically or emotionally) afford a quarantine (the number was higher among those who refrained from participating in mass-testing. This suggests that the logistical, social, and economical effects of a positive result felt more threatening to them than the health risks). In addition, our new data show that in February 2021, nine in ten (89%) believed that the crisis would last for more than six more months — and within this group, two thirds believed it would take a few more years. Against this background, it is perhaps not surprising that many people try to create new rules and routines for themselves that they feel will enable them to the next phase of the crisis. Fewer and fewer trust that the political leadership will get it right.

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