In a grim finding, a team of scientists say that people who believe myths about COVID are more likely to catch it.
"Community transmission rates drop when government entities impose restrictions," Ohio State University researcher Russell Fazio told PsyPost in a new interview about a study he helped publish back in October of 2021. "But the very persons who engage in more social distancing behavior decrease their personal likelihood of contracting COVID-19. [We] took this a step further, examining beliefs and personal characteristics that predicted whether individuals contracted the virus."
Study participants completed assessments for variables including pandemic perceptions, faith in government, belief in science, conspiratorial ideas and more. As it turns out, those with a strong trust of former President Trump, more government faith and more conspiracy theory beliefs were more likely to contract COVID, according to the study's findings.
"There are many important findings from this research, but the most critical one may be related to misinformation regarding COVID," Fazio told PsyPost. "Individuals with more accurate knowledge were far less likely to have contracted [it]."
The solution to these problems, though, may not lie in political evangelism and trying to sway COVID deniers to the other side of an ideological spectrum.
Instead, a less political and more empathetic approach may be a much more effective way to reduce COVID cases and deaths, which should really be everyone's end goal.
"It would be fascinating to examine the consequences of correcting any misinformation that people had acquired regarding the virus,” Fazio told PsyPost. “Whether changes in accurate knowledge results in changes in the likelihood of contracting the virus is an important question that needs to be addressed.”
In other words, in the fight against COVID, preventing hospital stays matters more than changing votes. So letting people know that their leaders failed them in an empathetic way, and not holding them personally responsible for those failings, may prove most effective.
After all, if individual action can make you vulnerable to COVID transmission, surely the reverse is true, too.
More on anti-vaxx dangers: WHO: Anti-vaxxers Are Now One of the Greatest Threats to World Health