Public underweighted risk of COVID transmission when meeting others indoors

ESRI Research Bulletin Articles provide short summaries of work published by ESRI researchers and overviews of thematic areas covered by ESRI programmes of research. Bulletin Articles are designed to be easily accessible to a wide readership. A reference or references to the full publication is included at the start of each Bulletin article.

March 15, 2022
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Risk of COVID-19 infection during social gatherings depends on multiple factors: how many people there are, how far apart they keep, whether they meet indoors or outdoors, the duration of the encounter, and so on. How people perceive this risk influences their behaviour, but accurately evaluating risk when multiple factors need to be integrated is difficult. In Summer 2020, we used a controlled experiment to estimate how the public evaluated the risk of COVID-19 infection in social settings. We compared their risk assessments to a sample of medical experts to identify gaps in understanding.