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COVID vaccines lift UK's well-being levels

·2-min read
Between January to March this year, anxiety fell, especially for older people, perhaps because of the vaccine rollout. Photo: Reuters
Between January to March this year, anxiety fell, especially for older people, perhaps because of the vaccine rollout. Photo: Reuters

The well-being of Brits during the first two waves of COVID-19 was among the lowest levels ever seen by the ONS since it started collecting this data in 2011, but it improved significantly in the second quarter of 2021.

In the final quarter of 2020, average ratings for happiness fell to among the lowest scores in a decade (7.23 out of 10) and anxiety rose to 3.43 out of 10, which was similar to the highest score recorded at the start of the pandemic.

By the end of the second wave in the second quarter of 2021, the feelings of happiness and anxiety also recovered to levels seen before the pandemic – the last quarter of 2019.

Between January to March this year, anxiety fell by 0.20 points to 3.23; the decrease was notable for people aged between 50 to 59 and 65 to 74 years, “perhaps indicating a sense of optimism as vaccines continued to roll out,” the report said.

Between April and June 2021, a “bounce-back” from the downturn of the end of 2020 was seen in all personal well-being measures. 

Life satisfaction, feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile, and happiness all increased, while anxiety continued to steeply decline. 

Read more: Small businesses hit by staff wellbeing issues

This coincided with the ease of lockdown restrictions and an acceleration of the vaccine programme.

Most age groups reported improvements in life satisfaction, happiness and anxiety, by Q2 2021.

However, anxiety in 20 to 24-year-olds was significantly higher than the national average, which could be because younger people – who were more likely to experience 'lockdown loneliness' – were still recovering from it.

It could also be because employment rates of young people were the most affected by the pandemic.

Employment levels seen in the second quarter of 2021 (51.7%) were still below those recorded a year earlier or before the pandemic. 

A report from last month showed increasing pressure and bigger workloads is causing stress and wellbeing issues among employees in the UK’s small businesses.

Almost half (49%) of small businesses reported issues with staff health and wellbeing during the past year, according to a survey conducted amongst SMEs by Lloyds Bank (LLOY.L) Business.

Watch: Easy budgeting tips for when you leave home

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