The comeback of Covid fear

By Ian Silvera

It’s been simmering ever since the phrase “second lockdown” was muttered. Now anxiety over Covid-19 is bubbling up in the UK, according to leaked polling seen by The Sun. The survey data, which comes without a pollster or methodology behind it, showed that 31% of voters now say they are worried about the virus, up two points on the prior week of polling. 

The exercise has also proven to be embarrassing for Boris Johnson’s administration, with just over a quarter of respondents (26%) saying that the UK government is putting in place the right measures to protect people. The survey adds to a growing media narrative for Johnson that he doesn’t fancy the top job and he doesn’t feel he’s remunerated well enough, claims aired in The Times that Number 10 and the Conservative leader’s allies have pushed back hard on. 

The Prime Minister, who definitely didn’t go on a jaunt to Perugia (it was actually Tony Blair), will hope to regain some perceived lost ground when he addresses the nation sometime tomorrow. His warm-up act, Professor Chris Witty and Sir Patrick Vallance, today warned of 50,000 coronavirus cases per day by mid-October if the government failed to act. That’s some sombre mood music for Johson to riff over. 

Donald Trump is also having a bad time of it on the coronavirus front. A large majority (69%) of US voters do not have confidence in the President’s claim that a vaccine will soon be available, according to an ABC News/Ipsos MORI poll. The survey, of more than 500 respondents taken on 18 September, also found that 64% of Americans would now take a Covid-19 shot, down from 74% in May. 

Trump’s claims and promises are all part of the US’ general election campaign, with the vote just over six weeks away on Tuesday 3 November. We are now entering the short-campaign, where everything – the debates, the rallies (virtual and otherwise) and the speeches – ramps-up. 

Equally, Australian regional leaders are facing mounting pressure, as support for opening up state borders grows. The latest Newgate Australia weekly tracker, of almost 1,700 respondents between Monday 14 and Wednesday 16 September, found that 63% of Australians now want the borders open by Christmas  – up from 58% last week.

When it comes with Covid-19 fears, however, the land Down Under seems to be an outlier. For the first time since early July, the level of unprompted concern has dropped below the 50% mark (48%).