Most People Are Unwilling To Share COVID Status Widely

Despite having different views on privacy and being at different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens across the globe have similar notions on when to share healthcare data and whom to share it with, according to the Oliver Wyman Forum.  

More than 80 percent of people surveyed in the US, UK, Germany, Spain, and Australia, would be comfortable sharing a positive test result for COVID-19 with their doctor, while smaller majorities would be willing to do so with public health authorities. Respondents are much less comfortable sharing a positive test result with either federal or local government officials. Singapore was the only country where a majority (55 percent) would share a positive result with their employer or school.

“The fight against COVID-19 raises fundamental questions about personal data and privacy,” said Oliver Wyman Forum Chief Operating Officer Ana Kreacic. “While people are hungry for information about the pandemic and cases of infection near them, most only support sharing their personal health data to a limited extent.”

Large majorities of respondents in all countries said they would want to be notified if someone in their immediate neighborhood tested positive, ranging from 69 percent in Germany to 80 percent in the US and 82 percent in Singapore. Sizable majorities would also want to know if someone at their place of employment or school tested positive.

Reluctance to Share via Apps

The survey also revealed a reluctance to share information with apps. American, British and German respondents were the least likely to say they would be comfortable sharing a positive coronavirus test with an app that disclosed the location but not the identity of infected persons. Even in Singapore, where such apps are currently being used as part of containment efforts, support today for sharing a positive test result was only 41 percent.

Globally, a majority of respondents would be comfortable sharing the result of a coronavirus test, (positive or negative) with an app only if access to that information was restricted to health providers and relevant authorities. Fewer than 20 percent in every country said they would be willing to share either their identity or location with a publicly available app.

China and South Korea, which have all sharply reduced the rate of infection, have used mobile location tracking in their containment efforts. Mobile phone companies in Germany, Italy, and Austria are sharing anonymized mobile location data with authorities and app developers to see if people are complying with social distancing measures. US officials have held talks with technology companies about using such location data to monitor social distancing as well as the spread of the disease. However, our research showed that today most of those surveyed would not be comfortable with sharing location data from mobile telephones. “As the pandemic advances, these consumer attitudes may shift, particularly if the data used is focused solely at the effort to fight the pandemic” concluded Kreacic.


About the survey

The Oliver Wyman Forum surveyed roughly 3,600 people online across six countries – the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Australia, and Singapore from March 21 to March 27.

About the Oliver Wyman Forum

The Oliver Wyman Forum is committed to bringing together business, public policy, and social enterprise leaders to help solve the world’s toughest problems. The Oliver Wyman Forum strives to discover and develop innovative solutions by conducting research, convening leading thinkers, analyzing options, and inspiring action on three fronts: Reframing Industry, Business in Society, Global Economic and Political Change.

Together with our growing and diverse community of experts in business, public policy, social enterprises, and academia, we think we can make a difference. For more information, visit

About Oliver Wyman

Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in 60 cities across 29 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. The firm has more than 5,000 professionals around the world who work with clients to optimize their business, improve their operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities. Oliver Wyman is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC]. For more information, visit Follow Oliver Wyman on Twitter @Oliver Wyman.