Something puzzling is going on. In terms of confirmed cases of coronavirus, the Federal Republic of Germany ranks among the highest in the world. In terms of number of deaths due to the virus, however, the country has had far fewer deaths than countries with similar numbers of cases. This stark contrast has baffled many. Some have even accused Germany of a cover up. Much has been made of how the methods for counting statistics such confirmed cases and confirmed deaths vary from country to country.
Considering how frequently the press relays, in aggregate, these varying statistics, without context or explanation, members of the public do not seem to know what to make of these differences. In a recent poll of 1,500 in Germany conducted on Sunday and Monday, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies took the opportunity to ask members of the German public what they thought of this difference between its numbers and those of other countries.
About half of Germans, we found out, believe the reported number of deaths in their country is accurate. Somewhat less than a third of German respondents believe the actual number is much higher, and less than 1 in 10 believe it may be even lower.
More interestingly, Germans looking at the substantially higher reported death figures in Italy were largely split as to whether the reported number of deaths in Italy was about right or even higher!
Despite this confusion, Germans altogether seemed to approve of the response of their Government to this crisis, with almost two-thirds of respondents saying that the response so far had been ‘adequate.’ Such numbers were higher than what we found in the United Kingdom, where a small majority of respondents found their Government’s response to be adequate, and in other European countries.
A significant majority also believed that their country was prepared to deal with the outbreak and prevent it from being serious, again a higher percentage of respondents than in any other country we had polled at any point thus far.
And an even higher number of German respondents expressed approval of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of the coronavirus crisis thus far.
At the same time, Germans were no less likely to fear the virus than respondents in other countries. A strong majority identified the virus to be more dangerous than the seasonal flu, and about 45% of respondents said they would rate their level of concern at either a 4 out of 5 or 5 out of 5 if they contracted the virus themselves.
Surprisingly, a majority of Germans also expected a majority of the population to inevitably contract coronavirus. This expectation is perhaps derived from Angela Merkel’s early comments that “up to 70%” of the German population could contract coronavirus.
It is somewhat baffling that the German public can simultaneously fear contracting the virus, expect the majority of the population to inevitably contract the virus and also overwhelmingly find their Government’s response so far to be adequate. How these contradictory views will resolve themselves in the future remains to be seen.
This research was also published in Politico.