People sit in a waiting area at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination center in Nantes, France, January 29, 2021.
Attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccines appear to be improving in some parts of the world, according to a survey published in the scientific journal Nature of thousands of people in 15 countries. Researchers have welcomed the results, which suggest that a growing proportion of people are willing to get vaccinated. But warn that some problems remain, such as concerns about vaccine safety.
“For the first time since the pandemic began, I can feel that optimism is spreading faster than the virus,” says the behavioral scientist Sarah Jones at Imperial College London, who co-led global attitudes towards a survey on the COVID-19 vaccine.
The survey is Part of COVID-19 behavior tracker, run by Imperial together with British market research company YouGov. It ran from November 2020 to January 2021, surveying around 13,500 people in Europe, Asia and Australia each time. In November, Before countries started approving COVID-19 vaccines, only about 40% of those surveyed said they would receive a COVID-19 vaccine if they were offered one during the week they answered the survey, and more than half were concerned about the potential side effects. “It was very important for us to see how attitudes changed once the national deployments started,” he explains. Melanie Leis, policy researcher at Imperial College London who co-led the project.
In January, more than half of those surveyed agreed that they would receive a vaccine if available during the survey week. Y the proportion of people who said they were concerned about vaccine side effects dropped to 47%. The United Kingdom had the highest proportion of people who were willing to receive a vaccine (78%) and, in 11 of the 15 countries, this number increased, sometimes considerably. In Spain, for example, the proportion of respondents willing to get vaccinated had increased from 28% in November 2020 to 52% in mid-January.
Experts warn that the survey results cannot be extrapolated to other regions of the world.
“The trends are encouraging,” he says Lavanya Vasudevan, global health researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. And adds that progress is likely driven by highly effective reporting on early vaccine candidates and their promising safety record thus far. people’s attitudes might also have changed as her friends and family shared positive or neutral experiences after receiving an injection, she says. But Vasudevan warn that the survey results cannot be extrapolated to other regions of the world, including low- and middle-income countries, until more data is available.
Although the situation looks increasingly positive on a global scale, the results for some specific countries show a more complicated picture, particularly those who have a history of mistrust of vaccines. Among respondents in France, for example, 44% are still not willing to receive COVID-19 vaccines. And when asked how much they trust COVID-19 vaccines, 66% of respondents in Japan answered “none” or “a little.”
Deborah Jones, A physician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City who worked in a COVID-19 hospital ward during the city’s peak of infections, appreciates the survey results. “It’s great to see that more people are now willing to receive a vaccine,” holds. “But what strikes me is how many people still doubt. Vaccine hesitation will delay our return to normality. “
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