STUDY: High COVID deaths in countries with low government trust

The number of excess deaths from COVID-19 is higher in countries where the population has less trust in the government.

This was the conclusion of a recent study conducted by the University of Ghent in Belgium. 

The study, which was conducted among 27 European countries, looked at data from 52 weeks over 2020, and examined how governments responded to the pandemic through containment measures, as well as how public trust affected the ultimate goal of such measures, which is saving lives and keeping mortality rates low.

Researchers found that trust has a direct and negative effect on mortality, meaning that societies characterised by higher trust are also characterised by lower excess mortality.

In Denmark, where trust in the government stood at 77% at the time of the study, excess mortality was significantly low.

Although Maltese data was not analysed by the researchers, the same scenario applies. With Government enjoying a high level of trust among Maltese citizens, Malta currently has the lowest excess mortality rate in the European Union. 

Malta currently has the lowest excess mortality rate in the European Union. 

Excess mortality in the context of COVID shows how the number of deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic compares to the deaths expected, had the pandemic not occurred.

The study shows that the higher the trust in government, the more people are inclined to follow non-compulsory guidance. This means that governments with a high level of trust are able to achieve success in curbing mortality rate, using less-stringent measures. This unlike low-trust societies which would be more inclined to require lockdowns.

Moreover, the study also suggests that higher lockdowns and excessively stringent measures are less effective in high trust societies as they tend to reduce trust in the government and its measures.

On a more general note, the study found that stringency measures are effective in decreasing mortality caused by the virus. 

Researchers also noted the different way in which countries tackled the pandemic early on, with countries sucj as Sweden focusing on more on the economy and the most vulnerable, avoiding large-scale lockdowns. On the other hand, France and Italy went for early lockdowns.

Malta is one of the few countries in Europe that did not impose a lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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