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expert reaction to ONS stats on behaviour of the COVID-19 vaccinated population after being in contact with a positive case in England: 25 to 30 October 2021

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released data from the COVID Test and Trace Contacts Behavioural Insights Survey on the behaviour of fully vaccinated individuals after being in contact with a positive case of COVID-19.


Dr Simon Williams, Senior Lecturer in People and Organisation, Swansea University, said:

“The latest ONS data are important for a number of reasons.

“The ONS report suggest that a majority, two out of three, people feel it is important to do more than the government’s guidance requires them to do.  This report again shows how much individual responsibility most people are taking to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.  However, it also suggests that government should be providing more or clearer guidance on what additional measures could be taken.  One-third felt that  guidance on self-isolation for double-vaccinated was inadequate.

“The ONS report also shows how much people still feel COVID-19 is a threat; 9-out-of-10 felt that it posed a threat to society or to friends or family, and 8-out-of-10 felt it posed a risk to them personally.   This reflects concerns during the Autumn that case have been rising and perhaps a perception amongst many that Winter is going to be a big challenge for the UK.

“The data also suggest that in the UK, trust in government advice and information is fairly low – only 6-out-of-10 believe it can be trusted.  We know that trust in authorities is one of the biggest predictors of how much people will continue to follow advice and behaviours.  That said, overall adherence to many health behaviours, like wearing masks in shops or socially distancing, has remained high, even into October.

“The data also show the importance of the booster.  The report shows how, of those who received two doses of the vaccine, 82% did not develop symptoms, compared with 96% of those who had received two doses and the booster dose.  This is a reminder of how essential it is that people accept their booster jab when offered and how authorities need to roll it out as quickly as possible.

“The ONS report also provides further evidence of the ‘participant-observer’ bias in compliance with covid measures and behaviours.  We found in our own research how people tended to feel that although they, and close others, closely followed rules, others – the general public – were overall much less compliant.  Here, only 65% of the public were perceived to comply compared to not far off 100% compliance for close family and friends.”



All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:



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