MONDAY, Oct. 26, 2020 — When scientists finish developing a COVID-19 vaccine, will people be willing to take it?
An international research team analyzed data from 19 countries hit hard by the new coronavirus and found that when confidence in government was low, hesitancy to accept a COVID-19 vaccine was higher.
Based on a previous survey of more than 13,400 people, researchers found that about 72% were likely to take a vaccine. About 14% would refuse and a similar percentage would hesitate, the survey showed.
“The problem of vaccine hesitancy is strongly related with a lack of trust in government. Vaccine confidence was invariably higher in countries where trust was higher,” said study co-leader Jeffrey Lazarus, of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain.
Study co-leader Ayman El-Mohandes said health leaders need to increase confidence and improve the public’s understanding of how they can help control the spread of COVID-19. El-Mohandes is dean of the School of Public Health at the City University of New York (CUNY).
Vaccine hesitancy will be a key obstacles for public health officials, in addition to the already challenging tasks of developing, producing and equitably distributing a vaccine. More than 90 COVID-19 vaccines are in development around the world, and about half are in human trials.
Vaccine acceptance varied by country, with the highest percentage of positive responses, 87%, coming from respondents in China. The lowest number of positives, 55%, was from Russia.
In the United States, 76% of survey respondents gave positive responses. About 11% were negative; 13% of respondents had no opinion.
Respondents who were older and those with higher incomes were more likely to accept a vaccine. People who had been sick with COVID-19 or whose relatives had been sick were not more likely to respond positively.
“It will be tragic if we develop safe and effective vaccines and people refuse to take them,” said study co-author Scott Ratzan, a lecturer at CUNY.
“We need to develop a robust and sustained effort to address vaccine hesitancy and rebuild public confidence in the personal, family and community benefits of immunizations,” he said in a CUNY news release.
Ratzan noted that the results were consistent with recent surveys in the United States, which point to diminished public trust in a COVID-19 vaccine.
The findings were published recently in the journal Nature Medicine.
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