Poll shows just how far COVID-19 misinformation has traveled

Almost 8 in 10 U.S. adults believe or are unsure of at least one false statement about COVID-19, according to polling data published Monday.

The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that 78 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they believe or were unsure of at least one of eight false COVID-19 statements that the organization tested.

That includes 38 percent who believe the government is exaggerating the number of COVID-19 deaths, 17 percent who believe pregnant women should not get the vaccine and 18 percent who believe deaths caused by the vaccine are being hidden by the government.

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The survey results highlight the problem of misinformation in the battle against COVID-19, which has been a leading concern in efforts to get more people vaccinated. KFF states in an analysis of the data that it shows "belief in pandemic-related misinformation is widespread."

"Belief in COVID-19 misinformation is correlated with both vaccination status and partisanship, with unvaccinated adults and Republicans much more likely to believe or be unsure about false statements compared to vaccinated adults and Democrats," the analysis adds.

Among unvaccinated people, 64 percent believed or were unsure about four or more of the false statements. That was significantly lower among vaccinated people, at 19 percent.

Among Republicans, 46 percent believed or were unsure about four or more false statements, compared to 14 percent among Democrats.

There was also a split based on which news sources people trusted.

Less than 20 percent of people who trusted local TV news, NPR, MSNBC, network news, or CNN believed or were unsure of four or more false statements.

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Among those who trusted Fox News, that was higher, at 36 percent, and among those who trusted Newsmax it was 46 percent.

KFF notes, though, that its study does not indicate whether those news outlets caused the false beliefs or whether people who already had the false beliefs tend to trust those news outlets.

The poll was conducted Oct. 14-24 among 1,519 adults and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.