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Survey suggests that 1 in 10 Canadians believe in a Covid-19 conspiracy theory

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Published on April 24, 2020 with No Comments

One in 10 Canadians believes a conspiracy theory about the novel coronavirus, according to preliminary research from the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec. 

The researchers sent surveys to 600 people, half in Quebec and half in the rest of Canada, to ask about the psychological impacts of the pandemic.  

Respondents were presented with six conspiracy theories and asked if they believe any of them. According to Marie-Eve Carignan, an associate professor at the University of Sherbrooke and one of the co-authors of the study, at least one in 10 respondents believed at least one of the six theories.

She cautioned that the findings of the study are preliminary, and that team will have the results of a survey of 1,500 Canadians two weeks from now. Eventually their work will expand to include six countries. 

Carignan said the six theories were:

  • My government is hiding important information about coronavirus.
  • Coronavirus was intentionally made in a lab.
  • Coronavirus was manufactured in a lab by mistake.
  • The pharmaceutical industry is involved in the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Coronavirus medication already exists.
  • There’s a link between 5G technology and the coronavirus.

One of the most popular conspiracy theories of the pandemic is that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was genetically engineered in a laboratory, possibly as a biological weapon. While just over half of those surveyed said they believe the virus occurred naturally, nearly a third said they believe it was created in a lab. 

But virologists around the world say they would be able to tell if the virus has been modified in a lab, and there are no signs that is the case. It is possible the virus could have been studied in a lab and then leaked accidentally, but it’s not probable, they say.

The survey also found that around 15 per cent of respondents believe that the pharmaceutical industry is involved in the spread of the coronavirus.

  • No, the new coronavirus wasn’t created in a lab, scientists say

Another popular theory links the virus with 5G wireless network technology. But Quebecers were less inclined to believe it than those outside the province: just 7.8 per cent of Quebec respondents, compared to 15 per cent of respondents in the rest of Canada. 

Carignan says she’s not sure why there’s such a difference but speculated it could be that conspiracy theories that originate in English may not spread as well to French speakers, but she says the issue requires further study.

The 5G conspiracy theory has gained traction this month: Google searches about 5G skyrocketed at the beginning of April, compared to the previous year.

But any perceived link between 5G technology and the coronavirus has been thoroughly debunked.


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