Online search pattern: ‘RT-PCR’, ‘oxygen cylinder’, ‘Remdesivir’ peak with Covid cases


In line with the spike in Covid-19 cases across the country, metrics representing the searches for Covid-19 essentials such as Remdesivir injections, RT-PCR tests, oxygen cylinders and hospital beds clearly reflect this surge over the last couple of months, according to data sourced from Google and third-party social media analytics platforms. As of Wednesday 8am, India had 21,57,538 active coronavirus cases, an increase of 1,25,561 cases from the previous day.

The charts for some of the care and treatment metrics show how the interest in these search terms skyrocketed during the week ending April 17, and is currently at the highest in the last one year for most of these categories. With regard to geographical interest, the term “remdesivir near me” recorded highest interest in Maharashtra, while Delhi saw the highest search interest in terms such as “oxygen cylinder near me”, “covid rt pcr test near me” and “covid hospital near me”.

An exception was the search term “covid vaccination centres near me”, interest in which peaked during the March 7-13 week.

For the week ending April 17, the highest interest in the search term was recorded in Tamil Nadu.

The numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. The suffix “near me” to a search term, according to Google, indicates a “signal of intent” by those running that query on the search engine. For most of these terms, queries resembling the search terms showed a similar trend.

In addition to people searching for these essentials, which are in high demand, on Google, they have also resorted to posting on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For example, not more than 200 posts on these sites with the term “remdesivir” were put out every hour on an average till April 7.

However, on April 17 and 18, 1,026 and 1,207 posts, respectively, were recorded on these platforms every hour on an average. Similarly, between April 1 and 16, posts with the term “oxygen” were at 3,700 a day on an average, and it almost doubled to 6,750 posts per day on an average on April 17 and18.

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