Covid pandemic leaves Europeans more likely to believe conspiracy theories – study | World news

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A year of the coronavirus pandemic has left many Europeans markedly more fed up, more pessimistic, more critical of the way their government is handling the crisis – and worryingly prone to believe conspiracy theories, according to a major study.

The survey of nearly 8,000 people across France, Germany, Italy and Britain by the French Cevipof political research centre (pdf) showed widespread levels of belief in coronavirus and vaccine-related conspiracy theories across all four countries surveyed – with mistrust highest in France.

More than 36% of French respondents, 32% in Italy and Germany and 31% in Britain agreed that health ministries were working with pharma companies to cover up vaccine risks, while 42% in France, 41% in the UK, 40% in Italy and 39% in Germany felt governments were exploiting the crisis to “control and monitor” citizens.

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The survey also confirmed a familiar contrast in levels of social and political confidence between southern and northern Europe.

The four countries’ experiences of the pandemic are not the same: Italy, hit hard last spring, is starting cautiously to reopen; Germany and the UK, both with second waves deadlier than the first, cannot yet do so; France is hoping to avoid a third lockdown.

But asked what word best described their state of mind, 41% of French respondents chose “weary”, against 28% last February. In Italy, included for the first time, the figure was 40%. In Britain it rose to 31% from 19%, and in Germany to 15% from 7%.

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Similarly, the proportion of people saying the word “gloomy” best described their mood was up 12 percentage points in France at 34% and stood at 24% in Italy. It also rose in Germany, doubling to 14%, and less sharply in the UK, up to 16%.

“People everywhere are very, very preoccupied by this crisis,” said Bruno Cautrès, a Cevipof analyst. “But the morose, anxious outlook of the French emerges very clearly from these figures. There is a thick French filter of mistrust.”

Asked if they agreed with their government’s handling of the crisis, 56% of Germans answered “wholly” or “partly”, compared with 74% last April. In the UK, approval fell from from 69% to 48%, and in France from 39% to 37%. In Italy it was 52%.

“These figures represent a mixture of temporary and structural factors,” said Gilles Ivaldi, a Cevipof researcher. “Regardless of the government’s objective performance in handling the pandemic, trust in politics generally is lower in Italy but, most clearly, in France, and that is reflected in people’s judgments.”

Asked how they felt about politics in general, 39% of French respondents opted for “mistrust”, against 30% of Britons, 27% of Italians and 24% of Germans. Nearly 25% of French and 31% of Italian respondents chose an even stronger epithet – “disgust” – against 8% in Germany and 11% in the UK. The survey was carried out by pollster Opinionway between 20 January and 11 February.

Differing attitudes towards government and institutions were also reflected in concerns about the economic consequences of Covid-19, the survey showed, with levels of worry high in all four countries – but greatest in France and Italy.

Almost 90% of those questioned in Italy and 84% of those questioned in France said they were very or fairly worried about the post-pandemic economic situation in their country, compared with 80% of those in the UK and 72% in Germany.

Vaccine acceptance showed a similar divide, with the French again the most wary: just 49% of respondents in France said they were likely to be, or had already been, inoculated against Covid-19, against 80% in the UK, 76% in Italy and 66% in Germany.

Across the four countries, the most common reason (58%) given for not wanting to have the jab was fear of possible side-effects, while 54% said not enough was known about the vaccines or the virus and 25% that they did not think the vaccines would be effective. One-sixth (16%) said they mistrusted vaccines in general.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Covid pandemic leaves Europeans more likely to believe conspiracy theories – study | World news

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