AUDIO: Oxford Professor warns conspiracy beliefs will thrive during coronavirus pandemic

A study's found people who believe in them are less likely to comply with social distancing rules.

The coronavirus was created by China, Bill Gates, or is a hoax!

They are just a few of the conspiracy theories that some people have admitted to believing, in a new Oxford University study.

Professor Daniel Freeman is warning that mistrust will 'become mainstream in the wake of the epidemic.'

He found that 60% of adults believed 'to some extent' that the government is misleading the public about the cause of the virus

40% of the 2,500 people questioned believed the spread of the virus is a deliberate attempt by powerful people to gain control, and 20% believed the virus is a hoax.

The Oxford Uni research also shows that people who hold coronavirus conspiracy beliefs are less likely to comply with social distancing guidelines or take-up future vaccines.

Daniel Freeman - who is also a clinical psychologist at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust - told us more about his findings: 

Daniel's warning that the high prevalence of conspiracy beliefs, and low level of trust in institutions, may impede the response to this crisis.

He said: "There is a fracture: most people largely accept official COVID-19 explanations and guidance; a significant minority do not. The potential consequences, however, affect us all.

"The details of the conspiracy theories differ, and can even be contradictory, but there is a prevailing attitude of deep suspicion.

"The epidemic has all the necessary ingredients for the growth of conspiracy theories, including sustained threat, exposure of vulnerabilities, and enforced change. The new conspiracy ideas have largely built on previous prejudices and conspiracy theories.

"The beliefs look to be corrosive to our necessary collective response to the crisis. In the wake of the epidemic, mistrust looks to have become mainstream."

The project is funded by the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre and published in the journal Psychological Medicine.

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