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Understanding the psychological and social impact of the pandemic

COVID Social Study - Newsletter 4


Welcome to the fourth COVID Social Study Newsletter. Over 70,000 participants have now contributed over 750,000 questionnaires over the last 27 weeks. Through this, we continue to gather critical information on the psychological and social impact of the pandemic in the UK.

Below, we highlight some of the headline findings, provide links to media coverage, and discuss the work we are doing with policy makers and organisations across the UK.

We have conducted over 150 telephone or video call interviews but we are still looking for more participants from specific groups to tell us about their experiences during the pandemic (in return for a £10 gift voucher to thank you for your time).

  • Young people aged 13-21 from Black, Asian or other Minority Ethnic groups
  • Fathers of young children
  • Public facing key workers (e.g. postal workers/delivery drivers, supermarket workers, police officers, funeral service workers, waste disposal workers, male teachers). We are particularly interested in hearing from key workers who are Black, Asian or from other Minority Ethnic groups and those aged 18-35 years old
  • Mothers from Black, Asian or other Minority Ethnic groups who have young children
  • Mothers who are aged 18-35 with young children

If you identify with any of these groups, or if you know anyone else who does and who would like further information about the telephone interview study, please contact Alex Burton

For those of you who have been participating in the study, thank you! We continue to receive wonderful feedback from participants:

“My poor 80 year old auntie is suffering the effects of isolation terribly but is tech savvy so I put her onto the survey and she started tonight. She is thrilled!”

It is rewarding for our team to hear the benefits. The time provided by our participants continues to be so valuable to help us understand the effects of the pandemic, and crucially, to help identify what support is most needed.


You are receiving this email as a member of the MARCH Network, or because you have requested updates on the Covid-19 Social Study. If you would prefer not to receive future newsletters, please unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of this email.

Key Findings 

Some insights into this month's findings…

28% of adults have reported that their lives are currently completely different or have lots of differences compared to prior to COVID-19, despite lockdown measures having eased substantially. 33% have said there are quite a few differences, whilst 35% have said there are only a few differences, and just 4% say their lives are entirely the same as they were before the pandemic.

“Most of my college work was put online.… It was hard for me realising that now I don’t have any routine in the same way that I did. It was a lot more time at home on my own, with my parents” (Male, aged 16, interviewed in September)

33% of people think they will make more use of online shopping once the pandemic is over and 26% report they will spend more time with family. 1 in 8 people say they plan to commute more by exercising (e.g. walking or cycling) and 1 in 10 are thinking of changing the area where they live.

“We’re trying, as far as we can, to plan ahead a little bit. So we’ve been thinking about whether we might move away from [location] to be nearer family and what kind of steps would we need to take to make that happen”
(Male, aged 35, interviewed in May) 

Stress relating to catching Covid-19 has decreased since lockdown came in, with no increase in recent weeks, despite lockdown measures being eased and virus cases increasing again. Worries about finance and unemployment have also stayed low, with only 1 in 3 people worried about finances and 1 in 6 worried about losing their jobs despite furlough schemes coming to an end.

“No, [catching Covid-19] doesn’t concern me, it never really has. I do obviously understand that there is a small possibility that I could get worse symptoms, but I am young, I’m female, I don’t have underlying health conditions.” (Female, aged 24, interviewed in September)

“It’s really made me worry about how financially viable it is to run a business when something outside your control can then destroy what you’ve spent years building. That’s a really scary prospect as a business owner, that that can all be taken away from you, and you really have no control over it” (Female, aged 33, interviewed in June).

53% of people are worried that vaccines can cause unforeseen future effects, while 38% report that natural immunity is better than immunity from vaccines. 25% believe that vaccines are used for commercial profit and 15% believe that vaccines do not provide protection.

“The vaccine, to me, the only thing that will stop this is a vaccine. Even then, I know there’s people that won’t accept the vaccine” (Male, aged 58, interviewed in June)

78% of adults say they are likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine when one is approved while 64% of adults feel they are likely to get a flu vaccine this winter.

“If (a vaccine) appears, and it’s long lasting, and it’s effective for people of our demographic, then I shall be first in line, if they allow me to be.  Lord knows, I certainly want to be vaccinated” (Male, aged 82, interviewed in August)

To see more results and further detail of the findings and methods, visit our website and download our weekly reports.  

Research Updates 


In the last month we have published new papers pre-prints and peer-reviewed scientific papers on the Covid-19 Social Study data including:

  • Drinking behaviours during lockdown
  • Predictors of empathy during the pandemic
  • Predictors of coping and coping strategies

These can be viewed here. Further papers are in preparation, under review, or in press and will be added shortly. These include papers focusing on use of mental health services, weight and diet during lockdown, attitudes towards vaccines, social isolation and mental health, and arts engagement during the pandemic, amongst others.



As well as presenting results and providing data to a number of policy and third sector bodies every week, in the last month we have also given evidence to the government All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, worked on a new report with the Government Office for Science, and produced a policy briefing with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing.

Please contact us if you would like us to connect with another group to support efforts relating to the pandemic. 

The Covid-19 Social Study continues to feature in national and international press & media - some examples are below.

A Short History of Solitude: Episode 3

We are often told that we are in the middle of an epidemic of loneliness, but what does that mean? Epidemiologist Daisy Fancourt excavates the idea and history of loneliness. 

Third of Britons say life is a long way from returning to normal, research shows
See article

A fifth of people are likely to refuse vaccine, study says
See article

COVID Minds Network 

The Covid-19 Social Study is part of the international COVID-MINDS Network, which is cataloguing longitudinal studies on mental health during Covid-19 internationally. You can see details of studies on the website, as well as links to empirical papers and resources and sign up for network newsletters.
Copyright © 2020 UCL COVID-19 Social Study
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UCL Department of Behavioural Science and Health
University College London
1-19 Torrington Place
London WC1E 7HB

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