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SEMrush Study: Online Searches By Indians To Cure Coronavirus Surge Between February and April 2020

The study also reveals that with gyms closed, Indians search for diet plans.

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SEMrush study has found that online searches for Hydroxychloroquine rose by an astonishing 12,245% between February and March 2020. Recently, US President Donald Trump demanded that India export the drug to the US because it is believed to shorten the time of clinical recovery from COVID-19. President Trump’s words likely caught the attention of Indians who are searching for the drug to keep their families safe from the virus. Notably, searches for two drugs similar to Hydroxychloroquine, namely, Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate rose by 2,384% and 1,577% respectively between February and March 2020. 

The SEMrush study shows there was a surge in searches with the keyword ‘coronavirus symptoms’. From being searched 1.8M times in February 2020, the keywords went to being searched a whopping 14.2M in times in March 2020. The SEMrush study reveals that Indians are turning to the internet to find ways of protecting themselves from COVID-19. 

The study shows that while online searches having the keyword “Coronavirus” have spiked, searches for common ailments like constipation, cold, dengue, depression, and dry cough have remained relatively steady even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The keywords “how to cure constipation”, “how to cure a cold”, “how to cure dengue”, “how to cure depression”, and “how to cure dry cough” were searched an average of 3.2K, 2.9K, 2.6K, 1.9K, and 1.6K times respectively between March 2019 to March 2020. The average number of times these conditions were searched for varied little from month to month over the past year till April 2020.     

Online searches for life-threatening conditions like cancer, breast cancer, heart attack, and diabetes also remained relatively steady from March 2019 to April 2020. Each condition was searched for an average of 9.8k, 3.9k, 3.9K, and 2.5K times respectively. A critical evaluation of the data hints that while COVID-19 is making headlines, for many people it’s life as usual. They are just as concerned about succumbing to common illnesses like cancer and heart attack as from the pandemic ravaging the planet and making all the headlines. 

The fact that online searches for most medical conditions have remained steady does not mean that the risk posed by these diseases outweighs that from COVID-19. Nor does it mean that Indians take the threat of COVID-19 less seriously. In all likelihood, it indicates that the number fearing they have such conditions has remained constant over the past year.  

The number of times searches with diet-related keywords were made fell considerably in February and March 2020. The average number of times the keywords “keto diet’, intermittent fasting’, ‘atkins diet’, and ‘paleo diet’ were searched from March 2019 to April2020 was 1.50 lakhs, .63 lakhs, .17 lakhs, and .16 lakhs. In March 2020, each respective diet was searched 1.08 lakh, .9 lakhs, .13 lakhs, and .12 lakh times. The SEMrush study has accurately captured the impact of the closure of all gyms in the country. With places of exercise closed, fewer are searching for diets that help lose weight.  

That's not to say that people are less conscious of the need to look after their health during the lockdown. While online searches for diets have fallen, searches having keywords ‘Yoga’, ‘Badminton’, ‘treadmill’, ‘back exercises’, ‘shoulder exercises’, and ‘ab exercises’ either rose considerably over their yearly average or remained relatively unchanged. This goes to show that active people denied access to a gym, are finding alternative ways to stay physically fit.  

Speaking about the results of the study Fernando Angulo, Head of Communications, SEMrush  said "Our study gets at the heart of what's going on in Indian minds during the lockdown. Our survey shows that Indians are watching the news to learn about the latest developments. They certainly learned about Hydroxychloroquine from the news. Many are also turning to the internet to learn about Coronavirus. Importantly, our study highlights the practical nature of most Indians. While they are aware of the COVID-19 pandemic, it hasn’t made them less cautious of other health risks like cancer, heart attack, and diabetes. 

He further adds, also our study shows that a considerable number of gym-goers in India search for diets online. When the lockdown is lifted, such searches are likely to spike. Finally, the study shows that Indians denied access to healthcare facilities, are apt to search for ways of remaining fit at home. Post lockdown, many may choose not to renew their gym memberships preferring to follow a routine they've adopted while quarantined at home".  

Tags assigned to this article:
Coronavirus Cure Search Analysis SEMrush Study