A third of UK adults believe the Government is exaggerating the number of deaths from coronavirus, according to a study into Covid-19 misperceptions.

A “stubborn minority” still question the scientific consensus on vaccine safety and Government reporting of Covid deaths, researchers from King’s College London found.

It discovered that around 33% felt the Government was inflating numbers of Covid deaths, with 54% saying this was false.

Additionally, one in seven say they do not believe most scientists have reached a consensus that vaccines are safe.

Almost three-quarters (74%) recognise this as true, almost as high as the proportion of the Irish population that recognised this (75%).

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: One in seven people in the study felt scientists had not come to a consensus on whether vaccines were safe (PA)One in seven people in the study felt scientists had not come to a consensus on whether vaccines were safe (PA)

Older people were more likely to believe in the scientific consensus on vaccines than the younger population, the research found.

The researchers carried out the study as part of PERITIA, a European Commission project investigating public trust in expertise.

They analysed data from surveys of 12,000 people in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Norway and Poland, including 2,042 UK respondents, carried out in January 2022.

The study also found that 17% of UK respondents believe a debunked conspiracy theory that common coronavirus symptoms appear to be linked to 5G network radiation, rising to 26% of 18 to 34-year-olds, with 70% believing it was false.

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said: “Despite the pandemic lasting much longer than many anticipated, this has not been enough time to convince everyone of certain established facts about Covid-19 and the response to the virus.

“Across both the UK and other European countries included in this study, there is a stubborn minority who still question not only the scientific consensus on vaccine safety but also government reporting of Covid deaths, while around one in six still believe the debunked conspiracy theory of a link between 5G and coronavirus.

“Building trust in expertise, so that people are able to recognise and accept reliable information, is crucial during a public health crisis and should be a priority for policymakers and scientists if we’re to better deal with the threats of the future.”