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Do 25% of people in the UK really believe COVID was a hoax?

The survey raised questions over how many people believe conspiracy theories about COVID
The survey raised questions over how many people believe conspiracy theories about COVID Copyright Tolga Akmen / AFP
Copyright Tolga Akmen / AFP
By Scott Reid
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Study asked people what conspiracy theories they believed but has been questioned by some

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Questions have been raised over a study which suggested that a quarter of the population of the UK may believe that COVID was probably or definitely a hoax. 

The survey in April by market research firm Savanta for King's College London and the BBC questioned more than 227,000 people in the country on a range of conspiracy theories. 

The results were revealed as the inquiry into how the UK authorities handled the COVID pandemic began and raised questions over the effects of social media, websites and other publications. 

However, the figure hugely contradicts other studies which have taken place, including one by YouGov which suggested only 3% of people in the UK believe COVID to be a hoax. 

So what could be the reason behind the discrepancy? 

The wording of the statement people were asked to answer raised some questions itself. It asked people to give their view on the following: "The Covid-19 pandemic was part of a global effort to force everyone to be vaccinated whether they want to or not," and allowed people to say whether something was definitely or probably true. 

Of that, only 9% answered with definitely true, while 14% answered with probably true. 

On Twitter, Will Jennings pointed out that in previous focus groups on conspiracy theories he'd run "what people were doing was recognising the possibility that something might be true. It was often a very reasoned position - eg 'I don't know for sure, so I shouldn't rule it out'."

Politics professor Rob Ford posted that poll evidence had to be taken at more than face value.

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