New web survey aims to understand prevalence of COVID-19 symptoms, association with testing, social distancing behavior

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For immediate release: April 8, 2020

Boston, MA – A new survey from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health will enable researchers to understand the prevalence of COVID-19 symptoms and to investigate their association with COVID-19 testing and social distancing behavior.

Developed by David Bloom, David Canning, and Rashmi Dayalu from the Program on the Global Demography of Aging at Harvard University (PGDA), together with Mahesh Karra from Boston University, the anonymous online survey is aimed at helping public health officials plan responses to the pandemic.

The survey, which can be completed in about five minutes, asks a few questions about the respondent’s demographic background, health, health status of other members of the household, potential COVID-19 symptoms, testing, social distancing behavior, and work status. Participants must be at least 18 years old and live in the U.S.

“Models of the spread and impact of COVID-19 depend on our understanding of how many people have symptoms and the success of social distancing messages in changing behavior,” said Canning, PGDA deputy director. “This simple anonymous survey can be taken at home on a computer or phone and could provide much needed data that will improve policymaking.”

Link to survey.

For questions regarding the survey, please contact Canning at

photo: Shutterstock/Graphic Farm

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Nicole Rura


Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.