London based online market research agency FlyResearch has been issuing weekly polls to its research panel of over 3000 people throughout the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, in order to project how the outbreak and the implementing of social distancing has been impacting the daily life of UK citizens.
Up until the 32nd week of the Covid-19 tracker survey [published on November 6 and sourced from data collected on October 30], The Leaders Council has been publishing a weekly review of the findings provided by FlyResearch managing partner, Greg Ward. However, the tracker survey will now be conducted monthly as will each review of the findings, with Ward summarising how attitudes among the panel have changed over a four-week period.
The latest survey and review, therefore, takes place following week 37 of the Covid-19 tracker poll, consisting of data sourced on December 4, 2020. The next review will follow on week 41 of the tracker survey, which will be formulated from data sourced in early January.
After the most recent poll back in early November uncovered that the mood among panel members was beginning to deteriorate at a more rapid rate than physical health, the latest survey showed that the approval of a Covid-19 vaccine and the launch of the UK vaccination programme had proven to be a significant morale booster.
Offering his initial comments on the findings before presenting the data, Ward said: “What is very clear throughout our latest poll is that the approval of a working vaccine and the start of a vaccination programme on UK shores has really lifted everyone’s spirits.”
Ward’s words were supported heavily by the data on the individual emotions that panel members were experiencing. The number of people saying that they feel ‘hopeful’ has risen from 26 per cent to 46 per cent within the space of a month, while the prevalence of those feeling ‘concerned’ has decreased from 54 per cent to 39 per cent.
The ‘angry’ emotion has also subsided following the news, with the 39 per cent recorded four weeks ago dropping off to 21 per cent in the latest poll.
Ward continued: “These shifts are the single biggest changes we have seen since the very start of the survey back in late March.
“We have also seen this reflected in the personal health of our respondents, and how they say their friends and family are faring. 40 per cent now inform us that their emotional health is suffering because of the ongoing pandemic, which is one percent down on last month. Meanwhile, 29 per cent are informing us that their friends and family are struggling emotionally, down from 31 per cent in the previous poll. Elsewhere, 51 per cent of respondents tell us that they have not suffered at all physically or emotionally, consistent with last month.”
The positive movement in emotions is also buoyed by movement in the right direction regarding employment statistics. Over the last month, the number of people reporting that they are still employed or working from home has risen from 44 per cent to 46 per cent, the number of furloughed has fallen from eight per cent to seven per cent, and two per cent now say they are redundant, compared to three per cent in November.
Correlating with the shift in emotions and encouraging employment outlook is a more positive perspective of how panel members feel the government is performing in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.
Ward explained: “As always, we measured the panel’s attitudes toward government handling of the situation through our one to ten scoring survey, with one representing the view that the government’s strategy had been a ‘disaster’ and ten suggesting that it has been effective. This month, we have seen the rate of respondents scoring the government in the top three range increase from 12 per cent to 16 per cent, while the mid-four range has increased in prevalence from 38 per cent to 43 per cent. 41 per cent, albeit down on the 50 per cent we saw last month, still maintain that the government’s performance is a disaster or close to one having scored them in the bottom three.”
Further to this shift, in FlyResearch’s speed survey [which calculates the panel’s views on the speed in which the government is responding to pandemic-related issues as they arise] there was also an all-time high in the number of those who felt the government’s speed of response to the pandemic is ‘about right’.
Ward elaborated: “37 per cent of respondents now feel that the government’s speed of response is about right, compared with 28 per cent one month ago. Meanwhile, 22 per cent feel that the government is moving a little too slowly in its actions and 19 per cent feel it is doing so too quickly. Eight per cent and 14 per cent feel that ministers are moving far too quickly in what they are doing and far too slowly, respectively.
“In terms of how this impacted our average speed calculation on our -100 to +100 scale, this has gone from -33 last month which suggested that the overall feel among the panel was that the government was moving a little too slowly, to -8 now. This still suggests that ministers are moving a little too slowly, but it is a significant shift in the right direction toward a perfect score of zero.”
In the latest poll, FlyResearch endeavoured to discover what the panel’s attitudes were toward taking a Covid-19 vaccine, and Ward revealed that by and large sentiment toward the programme was positive.
“The majority of the panel feel positive about the vaccine and it clearly signifies a major breakthrough since the start, however, there is more to do still, so we should not yet abandon social distancing and extra hygiene just yet. It will take time to roll out the vaccinations, but scientists predict that once the most vulnerable have been protected, the rate of infection will decrease significantly, and lives might be able to go back to normal.
“50 per cent of our panel said that they would be ready to take the vaccine immediately, while 15 per cent indicated that they would be happy to receive it once others had taken it. 25 per cent said that they would probably go forward for the vaccine once further evidence of safety longer-term had been provided. Only 11 per cent suggested that they would not take the vaccine, with that six per cent said they had definite concerns over safety and five per cent said they would refuse completely.”
Encouragingly, the survey found that anti-vax conspiracy theories, which have been prevalent on the internet of late, have not completely swayed people against take-up of a Covid vaccine.
Nine per cent of respondents reported that they see anti-vax material on the internet all the time while surfing the web, while 23 per cent and 15 per cent claimed that they came across such material occasionally or very occasionally, respectively. 23 per cent say that they have never been privy to such material, and the remaining 30 per cent simply do not use social media often enough to provide a clear answer.
Out of the nine per cent who claim to see anti-vax material all the time, 61 per cent of that proportion of people still said that they would go forward for a vaccine immediately when offered to them, suggesting that the negative disinformation on vaccines had not had a significant effect. Only nine per cent of the nine per cent said that they certainly would not receive the vaccine, while five per cent indicated that they probably would not do so due to safety concerns. 21 per cent of those people wished to see more evidence of safety before deciding, and five per cent would put themselves forward once others have been administered with the jab first.
Ward humorously concluded: “Encouragingly, it seems that anti-vax conspiracies have not completely taken over the internet despite some people thinking that it is a mass chip implantation programme by Bill Gates to control world population.
“We will keep a close eye on how developments change when we conduct our next survey following week 41 in January 2021. In the meantime, we at FlyResearch would like to wish everyone associated with The Leaders Council a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”