Why Should We Be Concerned About Fear of Covid-19?

Although fear can motivate self-protection in different ways, it can also create problems especially when it is not clear how to deal with a threat to well-being. Fear of infectious disease has the potential to cause problems at three levels (Van Bortel et al., 2016).

At the level of individuals, fear can interfere with the ability to perform one’s job and to successfully enact social relationships (Tamir, 2016), as well as decrease job satisfaction and increase stress (Hartley, Davila, Marquart, & Mullings, 2013). Fear and related disorders, such as posttraumatic stress syndrome, have also been associated with diminished cardiovascular fitness (Suls & Bunde, 2005), decreased immune system functioning (Segerstrom, Solomon, Kemeny, & Fahey, 1998), and degraded psychological health (Silver et al., 2013).

At the community level, fear can accelerate the spread of disease (Schulz et al., 2016), cause delays in care seeking (Yamanis, Nolan, & Shepler, 2016), disrupt health care delivery systems (Barrett & Brown, 2008), and diminish trust in health services (Van Bortel et al., 2016). In the case of Covid-19, some parents are delaying vaccination of their children against other diseases such as measles and mumps.

Fear can also produce unwanted outcomes at the state and national levels, especially with respect to economics. For instance, areas impacted by infectious diseases may experience loss of investment and decreased tourism/travel (Lempel et al., 2009). The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Covid-19 will cost the U.S economy $7.9 trillion over the next decade (Cox, 2020).


Cox, J. (2020, June 1). The coronavirus will cost the economy nearly $8 trillion, say Congressional Budget Office. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/01/the-coronavirus-will-cost-the-economy-nearly-8-trillion-congressional-budget-office-says.html

SEE Dillard & Yang (2019) for the other references