More than three in 10 Canadians completely or somewhat believe that COVID-19 was created in a lab and accidentally released or that the virus was created as a biological weapon in a laboratory, according to an online survey by a Western Canadian marketing research firm.
Thirty-seven per cent of 1,603 respondents to an Insights West survey conducted Mach 31 to April 5 believe that the virus is manmade but was released by mistake, while 31 per cent believe it was created with the intent to use it as a biological weapon.
Other COVID-related conspiracies had lower numbers of adherents. Fifteen per cent believe that the pharmaceutical industry helped spread the virus, while nine per cent believe vaccines for the virus include a chip that will track people and six per cent believe that there is a link between COVID-19 and 5G cell phone networks.
The margin of error for the entire survey sample is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan were slightly less likely than the Canadians surveyed as a whole to believe that the virus was made in a lab and accidentally released or created as a biological weapon. Thirty-three per cent completely or somewhat believed the accidental release hypothesis and 35 per cent believed the deliberate biological weapon assertion.
Twenty-one per cent of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents who participated in the survey believed that the pharmaceutical industry helped spread the virus, while nine per cent believed that COVID vaccines containing tracking chips – the same percentage that believed there was a link between the virus and 5G networks.
The margin of error for regional numbers could be larger due to the smaller sample size.
“It is unfortunate that the pandemic has resulted in a wide array of conspiracies circulating that are believed by believed by a sizeable number of Canadians, not by a fringe alternative segment of society.” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West, which has conducted over one million surveys since 2012, correctly predicting the outcomes of 25 out of 26 elections and plebiscites over that period. “The proliferation of these theories has been exacerbated by the shareability of these views on social media, which has elevated conspiracy theories to perhaps as high as it’s ever been in today’s world. I believe that the vaccine hesitancy that we are seeing in this country can be widely attributed to these swirling conspiracy theories, much to the detriment of stopping this virus.”