France, Spain, Sweden, the UK…. Several countries are reporting a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus. But, a recent survey by Gaon Connection found that 21% rural respondents think corona is no more around.
While the world is grappling with a new strain of coronavirus and several countries are enforcing another round of lockdowns, every fifth rural Indian thinks that coronavirus is no longer around. About 10 per cent believe COVID-19 is a disease of urban residents, while 8.5 per cent consider it as mild cold only.
However, 64 per cent of people in rural areas of India believe that COVID-19 is a real disease. Another 19 per cent consider it as a serious disease.
These are among the key findings of the first survey of its kind on the perceptions of rural Indians around the coronavirus vaccine by Gaon Connection Insights, the data and insights arm of India’s biggest rural media platform Gaon Connection. The survey, released as ‘The Rural Report 3: COVID-19 Vaccine and Rural India’ and available in full for a free download on www.ruraldata.in.
The face-to-face survey, conducted between December 1 and December 10, was carried out by Gaon Connection surveyors among 6,040 rural respondents across 60 districts in 16 states and one union territory. The selection of states, covering all regions of the country, was based on the prevalence of COVID-19 as per the COVID data of the Union ministry of health and family welfare, Government of India.
The survey had a margin of error of 5 per cent and a 95 per cent confidence level.
On being asked if the rural household thought the COVID-19 virus was still around, 63 per cent of respondent households said the coronavirus was still around, while 21 per cent of rural households said that the COVID-19 was no longer around. Slightly more than one per cent (1.3 per cent) said coronavirus was a hoax, while 15 per cent were unable to say anything in response to the question posed.
Region-wise, a quarter of rural respondents in western states (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh), i.e., 25.4 per cent felt that the COVID-19 was no longer around. Slightly more than 23 per cent (23.2 per cent) respondents in the eastern and north-eastern states (Odisha, Assam, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh) and 18.5 per cent in the northern states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana) and 18.7 per cent in the southern states (Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka) said the corona virus was no longer around.
Twenty-one-year-old Sunil Saav’s father, Ugan Saav, a resident of Kargalo village of Visnugarh block in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand, had contracted COVID-19 in March this year. Soon the villagers stopped talking to his family. However, Ugan Saav was treated at a hospital and recovered fully.
“Now there is no COVID-19 case in the village and many villagers believe COVID-19 to be a mere rumour. Also, for the past two and a half months, there has been no new corona case in our block, so most people are seen wearing masks only while stepping outside,” Sunil told Gaon Connection.
To capture villagers’ perception of the corona diseases, the Gaon Connection Survey asked them if they thought the COVID-19 was real disease or just a rumour?
Almost 64 per cent of rural respondents said COVID-19 to be a real disease, while about 19 per cent feared it was deadly. On the other hand, 11 per cent of rural households termed COVID-19 as an exaggerated issue, 9.4 per cent said that it was a disease of cities and 8.9 per cent called it a rumour. Further, 8.5 per cent of rural respondents said COVID-19 disease is just mild fever and cold, while 7.8 per cent considered it a disease of the rich and 4.2 per cent of rural respondents were unable to say anything about it.
Zone-wise analysis shows that in the southern states (Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka), 74.8 per cent of rural households believed COVID-19 to be a real disease. This figure was the highest among all the zones in the survey.
Further, in response to another question, more than half the rural respondents — 51.3 per cent — termed COVID-19 as a conspiracy by China, while 22 per cent blamed it upon the citizens’ failure to follow necessary precautions. Another 19.5 per cent considered it an act of God, while 17.9 per cent termed it as a failure of the government.
Amidst all this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has indicated the COVID-19 vaccine arriving soon in India. The director of AIIMS, New Delhi has expressed the possibility of COVID-19 vaccine coming to India by January 2021. At present, Pune-based Serum Institute of India is working in India with Oxford University on the COVID-19 vaccine ‘Covishield’. This COVID-19 vaccine awaits approval for emergency use in India.
Of the total rural households who participated in the Gaon Connection survey, 30 per cent belonged to the general caste, while about 37 per cent belonged to other backward castes (OBCs). In addition, 18 per cent belonged to the scheduled castes and 11 per cent to the scheduled tribes.
On the basis of ration cards, 48 per cent of the respondents were BPL card holders, while 45 per cent were above the poverty line i.e., APL card holders and five per cent belonged to Antyodaya Yojana (AAY).
Read the story in Hindi here.