How many Europeans are sceptical of lockdowns and the health risks from coronavirus?

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
August 17, 2021, 5:08 PM UTC

Britons are among the least lockdown sceptical nationalities in a survey of 20 European countries

While Britain has seen several protests by anti-lockdown protesters in recent months, a YouGov survey shows that relatively few Britons question the merits of lockdown or the health risks of coronavirus compared to elsewhere in Europe.

The research, conducted in June in 20 European countries, shows that Hungarians are the most likely to believe lockdowns ‘do more harm than good’, at 42%. This is twice as many as those believing they ‘do more good than harm’, at 20%. Another three in ten Hungarians (28%) say they do both equally.

Sentiment is similar in other southern and eastern European countries. A third of Croatians (34%), Bulgarians (33%) and Greeks (33%) say the drawbacks of lockdowns outweigh the benefits – in each case higher than the proportions that believe the opposite to be true (19% of Croatians, 30% of Bulgarians and 26% of Greeks).

Here in Britain, only one in six (16%) are left feeling that locking down has been more harmful than beneficial. Over two in five people (45%) believe the benefits have outweighed the drawbacks, while three in ten people (29%) say it’s done equal good and harm. 

Portugal and Spain are the least lockdown-sceptic countries in the survey, with only 8% and 14% respectively believing that coronavirus restrictions do more harm than good.

How many Europeans believe that the health risk from coronavirus is overstated?

While more than four million people are known to have died globally from coronavirus during the pandemic, research shows that a sizeable minority in many European countries believe the health risk is exaggerated.

This view is most prevalent in Romania, where approaching half of the population (46%) say the risks from Covid-19 are overstated. The remainder either believe they are stated about right (28%), understated (16%) or are unsure (10%).

Bulgarians (41%), Croatians (38%) and Greeks (36%) are also among the most likely to subscribe to this view – all countries with high lockdown scepticism.

Among Britons, a fifth (21%) believe coronavirus is not as harmful as it’s made out to be. Half (49%) say the risks are stated about right, while another one in five (19%) say they’re understated.

Swedes and the Portuguese are the least likely to believe the risks have been exaggerated, at 14% and 15% respectively.

See the full results here