Covid-19 one year on: Global public loses confidence in institutions

Tracking survey data shows who gained and lost with the public over the past year.

The author(s)
  • Natalie Lacey Executive Vice President, Media Development, Ipsos US
  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US
  • Sarah Feldman Public Affairs, US
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Nearly a year after the World Health Organization declared the spread of the novel coronavirus a pandemic, Ipsos has found that people from six of eight major countries are less confident in their government's ability to deal with Covid-19 than last year.

Global health officials and the media also took a hit in this arena. Majorities in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States expect that, in the long term, people will question global health authorities. On average, about three in ten adults surveyed across the eight countries believe the media exaggerates the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak, as was the case a year ago.

Doctors and local healthcare workers remain the one group that tends to be more trusted now than at the beginning of the crisis.

National governments did not meet expectations

Over the past year, in most countries studied, confidence in the government’s ability to deal effectively with the coronavirus has decreased. Among the eight countries analyzed, the only exceptions are Australia, where confidence in the government’s COVID-19 response is now higher than it was a year ago (78% very or somewhat confident in January 2021 vs. 70% in February 2020) and Germany, where it is statistically comparable (54% vs. 50%).

  • As in Australia and Germany, a majority in Canada (60%) is confident that their government can handle the coronavirus.
  • Public opinion on the matter in the United States (47%) and Russia (45%) is divided. Only about one-third of those in the United Kingdom (37%) and France (36%) and one-quarter in Japan (24%) believe their national government can deal with the virus.
  • The countries showing the steepest drop in confidence in their national government's COVID-19 response are Japan (minus 39 percentage points), the United Kingdom (-28), the United States (‑21), and France (‑20).


Confidence in National Government to Effectively Deal with the Coronavirus

Global health officials lose authority

Most people across the eight countries studied think the pandemic has impacted trust in global health authorities. Over the past year, this opinion has gained in prevalence.

  • Majorities in each country, from 73% in France to 51% in Russia, say they are very or somewhat likely to think global public health authorities will be questioned in the long term.
  • The expectation that trust in global health authorities will be weakened shows double-digit growth in nearly all countries, including France and the United Kingdom (+28 percentage points, each), Canada and Germany (+22, each), Russia (+21), and to a lesser extent in the United States (+17) and Australia (+14). Japan is the only exception (+4).


Likelihood Trust in Global Health Authorities Will be Questioned in the Long Term

One year into COVID-19, doctors and local healthcare professionals gain trust

In all eight countries surveyed, most people are “very” or “somewhat” confident that local healthcare professionals, such as doctors, can deal with COVID-19 in their communities.

  •  As of now, Australia (89%), Canada (84%), the United States (80%), and the United Kingdom (79%) are the countries whose residents have the most confidence that their local healthcare professionals will be able to manage the novel coronavirus, followed by Germany (76%), France (74%), Japan (61%), and Russia (52%).
  • Compared to one year ago, people have grown confident in their local healthcare professionals’ ability to respond to COVID-19 in Germany (+27 percentage points), Russia (+13), Australia (+10), the United States and the United Kingdom (+8, each), and Canada (+7).
  • The only countries where confidence in local healthcare professionals’ COVID response is lower now than a year ago are Japan (-15 percentage points) and France (-4).
Confidence in Healthcare Professionals in the Community to Effectively Deal with the Coronavirus

Belief that the media exaggerates the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak

A sizeable minority of adults surveyed in every country think the media distorted the scope of the COVID-19 outbreak. On average, about three in ten across the eight countries (from 23% in the U.K to 37% in the U.S.) believe the media exaggerates the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Since February of last year, belief that media coverage of the pandemic is exaggerated has grown in two countries, Japan (+8 percentage points) and the United States (+7);
  • It has decreased in Russia (-18), Germany (-6), and the United Kingdom (-4);
  • It is statistically unchanged in Canada (-2), Australia (-2), and France (+3).
Belief that Media Exaggerated Extent of COVID-19 Outbreak


Read also One year on, most don’t see an end to the pandemic before the end of 2021 – if at all


The survey is conducted on Ipsos’ Global Advisor online platform among adults aged 18-74 in Canada and the United States, and 16-74 in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom. The first wave was conducted between February 7-10, 2020. The 33rd and most recent wave reported in this document was conducted January 28-31, 2021.
The author(s)
  • Natalie Lacey Executive Vice President, Media Development, Ipsos US
  • Nicolas Boyon Public Affairs, US
  • Sarah Feldman Public Affairs, US