Rising vaccine hesistancy jeopardises potential of COVID vaccine

"The numbers are significant enough to compromise the effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine to manage the disease and to see an end to the cycle of new lockdowns and restrictions," according to a health expert. [SHUTTERSTOCK]

The number of people willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine has dropped to 73%, and this decrease is enough to compromise the effectiveness of a potential vaccine, a new Ipsos global survey has warned.

The survey, which was released on Thursday (5 November) by the market research company Ipsos in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, found there is a growing reluctance to receive a vaccine, with a decline in vaccine intent found in 10 of the 15 countries surveyed.

This decline was found to be most significant in China, Australia, Spain, and Brazil, and represents a loss of 4 points compared to the previous survey in August.

More than four in five people in India, China, South Korea, and Brazil reported that they would get a vaccine if available, compared to just over half in France and approximately two in three in the US, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Japan, and Germany.

The survey also asked how soon after a vaccine becomes available people would be willing to get one.

Nearly half of adults globally said they would get vaccinated within three months of a COVID-19 vaccine being available to all, but this figure dropped to fewer than four in 10 in France and Spain.

Side effects and hasty trials top concerns

Concerns concentrated mainly on the potential side effects of the vaccine and clinical trials moving too fast, being cited by a third of those surveyed.

Japan and China reported the highest level of concern about side effects, while worry over the hastiness with which trails are being conducted was highest in Brazil and Spain.

The news comes on the back of the temporary suspension of trials of one of the lead vaccine contenders from pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca back in September after concerns were raised over potential side effects.

Fewer aired concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine or cited the fact that they are against vaccines in general, while only 8% said they thought the risk they may get COVID-19 was too low.

Health concern puts AstraZeneca vaccine hopes on hold 

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced on Tuesday (9 September) it has suspended global trials of its coronavirus vaccine, in a fresh setback for the global race to find a vaccine.

Serious consequences

“This drop in vaccine confidence is a remarkable and sad trend as we edge closer to a possible vaccine roll-out,” said Arnaud Bernaert, head of shaping the future of health and healthcare at the World Economic Forum.

He cautioned that these numbers are significant enough to do serious damage to the effectiveness of a future vaccine in managing the disease and ending the cycle of lockdowns.

“The numbers are significant enough to compromise the effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine to manage the disease and to see an end to the cycle of new lockdowns and restrictions,” Bernaert said.

The health expert added that it is critical that governments and the private sector work to build trust in the next steps.

“While the numbers in this latest study show there is more confidence than not in a COVID-19 vaccine, the rising hesitancy is material and highlights that a vaccine won’t work if people don’t take it.”

“It’s important to know that when a vaccine is ready, it will make a difference,” he stressed.

In 2019, the World Health Organisation named public hesitancy towards vaccination as one of the top 10 threats to global health, concluding that it affected not only public health, but also businesses and economies.

MEPs call for transparency in race for COVID vaccine amid rising vaccine hesitancy

EU lawmakers from across the political spectrum stressed the need for transparency in the COVID-19 vaccine process in a hearing with pharmaceutical industry representatives, emphasising that this is necessary to combat a growing vaccine hesitancy in the EU.

[Edited by Benjamin Fox]

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