Lack of media literacy and numeracy skills driving COVID-19 conspiracy theories: report

The University of Cambridge released a new study wherein it revealed that one-third of respondents now believe COVID-19 was derived in a lab in Wuhan, China. Between 22 percent and 23 percent of people polled in the United States and the United Kingdom said they agreed. This theory has never been proven even though President Donald J. Trump continues to refer to the coronavirus as the "China virus."

"Cause it comes from China. It's not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that's why. I want to be accurate," Trump has said. "...I have great love for all of the people from our country, but as you know China tried to say at one point ... that it was caused by American soldiers. That can't happen. It's not gonna happen, not as long as I'm President. It comes from China."

In addition to the U.S. and the UK, 26 percent of respondents in Ireland, 33 percent in Mexico and 37 percent in Spain said they believed COVID-19 was made in a Chinese lab. Mexican respondents also said they believe the pandemic was "part of a plot to enforce global vaccination." This statement held true with 18 percent in the U.S. and 13 percent in the UK.

The Daily Mail reported that several scientists around the world, including Dr Anthony Fauci have said there is no evidence to suggest the virus was manufactured in or accidentally escaped from a lab - a theory that President Donald J. Trump continues to spread throughout his rallies, public speeches, tweets, and meetings.

"Numeracy skills are the most significant predictor of resistance to misinformation that we found," said lead author Dr Jon Roozenbeek, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychology.

"We find a clear link between believing coronavirus conspiracies and hesitancy around any future vaccine," said Dr Sander van der Linden, co-author and Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab. "As well as flagging false claims, governments and technology companies should explore ways to increase digital media literacy in the population. Otherwise, developing a working vaccine might not be enough."

"There are lots of data and lots of evidence, as well as previous examples of this coming from nature," wrote Dr Kristian Andersen, a professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, in a research letter. "We have exactly zero evidence or data of this having any connection to a lab."