Almost one-third of Irish people believe the Government exaggerated the number of Covid-19 deaths, according to a study of trust in expertise across Europe.
However, it found trust in the safety of Covid-19 vaccines is generally higher in Ireland than in the other countries surveyed, while belief in conspiracy theories is lower, and Irish people professed greater willingness to comply with Covid-19 regulations.
More than 12,000 people were surveyed across six European countries – including 2,000 in Ireland – about their view on the pandemic, vaccination and their belief in various Covid-19 conspiracies.
Some 31 per cent people in Ireland think the Government is exaggerating the number of deaths from coronavirus – roughly in line with the average across the six countries. At the upper end of the range, 43 per cent of people in Poland believe their government is doing this, while at the other, 24 per cent in Norway believe the same.
Three-quarters of those surveyed in Ireland said it was true that nearly all scientists agreed that Covid-19 vaccines were safe, the highest figure for the six countries. Yet, one in seven (16 per cent) thought otherwise, the largest recorded figure across the nations involved in the study. Ten per cent of Irish people believe the symptoms mostly blamed on coronavirus are linked to 5G network radiation, but this is the lowest figure in the study – in the UK, 17 per cent of people hold this view.
The study was commissioned by UCD as part of its European Commission Horizon 2020 project Peritia – Policy Expertise and Trust in Action.
“A key point in Ireland is the public’s belief in the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe, and this is reflected in the very high take-up of Covid vaccines here,” said Prof Maria Baghramian, professor of philosophy at UCD and coordinator of Peritia.
“It’s also very reassuring to see the low prevalence of belief in conspiracies around the pandemic in Ireland, with the lowest percentage in the countries studied believing that the symptoms of coronavirus are linked to 5G network radiation.”
The feeling that government is not honest and truthful was shared by 48 per cent of Irish people, with 58 per cent thinking the Government communicates inaccurate and biased information.
On the legacy of the pandemic, 78 per cent of people in Ireland are concerned about its long-term impact, lower than in other countries, and 85 per cent are worried about the impact of Covid-19 for their country.
Despite majorities in all countries reporting fears about the pandemic’s long-term effects, the authors say there is a gap between concern and action. Only one in three (29 per cent) in Ireland said they would give part of their income in taxes to help.