Physicians believe 2nd wave of COVID-19 is likely to occur

Survey Shows Nearly Half (44%) of U.S. Doctors Believe Fewer Patients will be Infected during a Second Wave Compared to the First

New York – June 23, 2020 – Sermo’s COVID-19 Real Time Barometer survey, conducted with nearly 4,000 physicians across 31 countries from June 10-12, reveals 81% of physicians in the United States believe a second wave of COVID-19 – defined as “a sharp increase in cases after achieving extended periods of low growth rates” – is likely to occur. Sixty-two percent of physicians in other countries, such as France, Korea and Australia, feel a second wave is likely.

Complete survey data and methodology can be found here

“I feel certain there will be a second wave of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths, particularly in areas that have overly relaxed social distancing and mask wearing in a rushed attempt to return to ‘normalcy’,” said David Karpf, MD, endocrinologist at Stanford Health Care. 

Some Sermo members expressed concern a second wave could occur in the late fall or winter and be compounded by influenza, common respiratory viruses and other seasonal viruses. 

When asked about preparedness for a second wave, only one-third (34%) of global physicians reported they expect their state or region of their country would be prepared, and a quarter (26%) are not confident lessons learned would be fully applied to a second spike. 

Are we prepared locally?

  • In California, where new cases are increasing, 87% of doctors surveyed feel a second wave is likely, yet only 39% are highly confident their state will fully apply past learnings.
  • In Illinois, where strict guidelines have been in place since mid-March and residents are preparing to enter phase 4 later this week, 75% of doctors feel a second wave is likely. Only 10% of Illinois physicians surveyed are extremely confident the state will fully apply what was learned in wave one to wave two.
  • In New York, once the epicenter of the outbreak, 76% of doctors surveyed expect to experience a second wave, and more than half (51%) have confidence in how people would handle it.

How are physicians holding up?

The return to some level of normalcy is a complex process that requires balancing the risk of infection and transmission with the physical and mental effects of isolating, canceling summer camps, shuttering schools, continuing the work from home practice, and more.

As the general public has experienced an increase in anxiety over finances, health, safety, relationships and other issues, physicians are enduring their own professional stressors. Among physicians who have experienced more stress than usual in the past week, Sermo found:

  • 63% attributed the increase to implementing new processes to see patients in the office.
  • 58% attributed it to financial concerns (whereas 38% of doctors in the rest of the world feel their increased stress is due to finances). 
  • 36% attributed it to uncertainty about how to treat COVID-19.

“Our data reflects the voice of physicians worldwide, and in this recent wave, we hear their concern about possible peaks, second waves and preparedness,” said Peter Kirk, Sermo CEO. “Physicians stress the importance of remaining vigilant against the coronavirus otherwise many countries will find themselves back to square one.” 

About the Real Time Barometer

The Real Time Barometer is an observational study of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak as reported by physicians with firsthand experience treating COVID-19 patients. Each week, thousands of physicians provide insights on topics regarding the global health crisis. To date, Sermo has conducted 55,280 interviews with doctors in 31 countries, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Russia, China, Japan and Australia.

About Sermo

Sermo is the largest healthcare data collection company and social platform for physicians, reaching 1.3MM healthcare professionals across 150 countries. The platform enables doctors to anonymously talk real-world medicine, review treatment options via our proprietary Drug Ratings platform, collectively solve patient cases, and participate in medical market research. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Beth Richman