Throughout the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, London based online market research agency FlyResearch had been issuing weekly polls to its research panel of over 3000 people, in order to project how the outbreak and the implementing of social distancing and other restrictions has impacted 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 published a weekly review of the findings provided by FlyResearch managing partner, Greg Ward. However, from that point on owing to the speed of changes to restrictions, the weekly tracker survey switched to a monthly poll with reviews of the findings coming every four weeks. The previous survey and review came following week 41 of the tracker poll, consisting of data sourced on January 1, 2021.
This latest survey, carried out on week 45 of the poll, covers data sourced from January 29, 2021, and although there was a significant leap in the number of respondents claiming to know somebody who has died because of Covid-19, Ward began his monthly summary of the findings with a direct appeal for calm.
He said: “The smart money was always going to be on this pandemic lasting into the spring and the hard miles are now behind us. So, we should be as positive as we can be in the circumstances and let’s all hope that we can get back to something closer to normal in the summer.”
Shifting the emphasis immediately to the death increase, Ward added: “We do, however, need to pause for a moment and remember those who have passed away. We are incredibly sad to have to report that 20 per cent of our panel now say that they know somebody who has died as a result of Covid. This is up from 18 per cent just four weeks ago and 16 per cent before Christmas, so it is a shocking rise. Plus, we must add national treasure Captain Sir Tom Moore to the list of people that this horrible virus has taken from us.”
While the rising deaths was a matter of concern, the employment status of respondents seems to have provided some respite.
Ward explained: “The job situation for our panel members seems to be stable. There is virtually no change from a month ago with 47 per cent still employed or working from home, just seven per cent furloughed compared to six per cent a month ago, and the percentage of those made redundant remaining at three per cent. Clearly it is not great news given the lack of improvement, but at least it is not getting any worse and we are starting to see some light ahead of us.”
Drawing attention to the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”, the latest survey did highlight some interesting statistics around the ongoing vaccination programme, with 13 per cent of panel members reporting that they have had the vaccine and a further five per cent booked in to receive it at a later date. On the other hand, one per cent of respondents indicated that they had refused the vaccine while a further four per cent say they intend to refuse if asked.
Addressing the refusal figures, Ward indicated that FlyResearch intend to include a question in the next monthly poll to better understand the reasons why some people see fit to refuse the vaccine. He also deduced that the vaccination programme may have had some impact on a positive shift in the emotions that panel members were experiencing.
Highlighting this selection of data, Ward explained: “Perhaps a result of the vaccination programme, the negative emotions are generally down this month and the positive ones are becoming more prominent. We can see that the number of respondents who say they feel ‘hopeful’ has increased to 38 per cent, up from 32 per cent last month and 21 per cent before Christmas. On the other hand, ‘concerned’ is back down to 49 per cent from 56 per cent four weeks ago, and the number of those feeling ‘angry has dropped off from 31 per cent to 27 per cent now.”
Furthermore, both ‘pragmatic’ [20 per cent] and ‘stoic’ [16 per cent] have seen an increase of two percentage points, but loneliness appears to have bucked the trend with 19 per cent of respondents indicating that they feel ‘lonely’, an increase of six per cent compared to four weeks earlier. The number of people feeling ‘desperate’ also remains high at ten per cent.
Ward commented: “We think the increase in loneliness is probably to do with the fact that everything seems to drag on at the moment and we are still living under full lockdown restrictions. The fact that we are still seeing an awful lot of desperation is perhaps a timely reminder for us all to reach out to our friends and relatives.”
The general improvement in the emotional position also seems to have correlated with an improvement on the panel’s views around how the government is handling the crisis, with results roughly on a par with those sourced in week 13 back in mid-June of 2020. On balance, the panel still feels the government is addressing issues as they arise a little too slowly with an overall speed score of -30, but that is much improved on the -42 recorded four weeks earlier and is closer to the perfect score of zero.
The guest questions in the latest survey revolved around the government’s strategy on vaccines and sanctions for Covid rule breakers, as well as asking when schools should be reopened.
Concluding his summary by addressing the findings, Ward said: “The first thing to point out here is that a staggering 70 per cent of the panel disagree with the government’s strategy of delaying the second dose of the vaccine while 30 per cent are happy to go along with it. Over 70 per cent of people also want punishments to be harsher for people who break Covid restrictions, with 50 per cent saying they want the consequences to be much harsher and 26 per cent just a bit harsher. 18 per cent, almost all of those remaining, think the current punishments are sufficient, so hardly anybody wishes for Westminster to be more lenient.”
Regarding the return of schools, a majority of 61 per cent are happy for children to be home educated for as long as needed, saying that schools should only reopen when it is safe to do so. Meanwhile, 13 per cent wanted to see schools reopened as soon as possible, while 25 per cent felt that it was right to target a return in March.