Filipinos are more interested in Ivermectin, the unapproved drug treatment for COVID-19, than vaccine registrations and oxygen tanks, research showed.
iPrice Group, a meta-search website which shared its recent study, said that based on their research there was only an estimate of 1,430 Google searches by Filipinos on the keywords “vaccine registrations” in March 2021, which is about 157 times lower than searches on an unapproved drug for COVID-19 and about 27 times lower than searches on oxygen tanks.
The number of Google search volume of vaccine registrations from January to March (2,070) only accounts for 0.0047 percent of the country’s Google population.
In contrast, Ivermectin reached a Google search volume of 224,110 in March 2021, which surged by 687 percent compared to the previous month. However, people may have been starting to talk about Ivermectin even as early as February, this the comparison of the Google searches of March 2021 with November 2020, when there wasn’t much talk about it, the surge is much higher (2,705%).
The Google search interests in Ivermectin also continued to grow in April, as seen in Google Trends’ data. Based on this, iPrice predicts the continuous upward trajectory of people’s interest in Ivermectin, which is very alarming.
iPrice further commented the data as problematic for the country’s efforts to eradicate the virus, as studies show that an estimate of 50-80 percent of the population needs to be inoculated to achieve herd immunity.
In terms of Google searches on oxygen tanks, iPrice said there seemed to have the same trend as Ivermectin, which surged by 115 percent in March 2021 compared to February 2021.
Searches on oxygen tanks have reached an all-time high of 39,160 throughout the year (from March 2020 to March 2021). This trend happened in 2020 as well when searches also surged during the first wave in 2020, with an average of 24,277 searches from July to September, then tapered off as the daily cases declined.
During this second wave, hospitals are experiencing a shortage of space and oxygen tanks. Thus, Filipinos are looking for oxygen tanks in case of worst-case scenarios. According to Google Trends, searches on oxygen tanks are also still in an upward trajectory in the first weeks of April, which predicts about a 376 percent surge in searches compared to March.
This trend could be problematic since hospitals are already experiencing a shortage of oxygen tanks, the supply may be going to households that don’t need it instead of hospitals that are in dire need of it, iPrice commented.
Overall, iPrice said that these Google searches showed how Filipinos’ online interests may indicate the country’s urgent state, even a year after the pandemic hit. Many Filipinos are desperate for treatment and security as not all have the means to be treated in hospitals. It’s safe to say that everyone just wants the virus to end, but this is harder to achieve when many Filipinos are reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. iPrice Group operates in seven countries across Southeast Asia namely; Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. Currently, iPrice compares and catalogues more than 5 billion and receives about 20-30 million monthly visits across the region. iPrice currently operates three business lines: price comparison for electronics and health & beauty; product discovery for fashion and home & living; and coupons across all verticals.