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Most people would get COVID-19 vaccine if offered by government or employer - poll

Tue, 20th Oct 2020 12:00

* 71.5% very or somewhat likely to take COVID-19 vaccine

* Countries where acceptance over 80% tended to be in Asia

* Survey of more than 13,000 people carried out in June

By Josephine Mason

LONDON, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Most people would get a COVID-19
vaccine if their government or employer recommended it, results
of a global poll showed on Tuesday, amid growing concerns about
public distrust of the shots being developed at speed to end the
pandemic.

Some 71.5% of participants said they would be very or
somewhat likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine and 61.4% reported
they would accept their employer's recommendation to do so,
according to the survey in June of more than 13,000 people in 19
countries.

The poll was overseen by the Vaccine Confidence Project
(VCP), a global surveillance programme on vaccine trust funded
by the European Commission and pharmaceutical companies among
others, as well as Business Partners to CONVINCE, a U.S./British
initiative that is partly government funded.

All respondents, regardless of nationality, said they would
be less likely to accept a COVID-19 vaccine if it were mandated
by employers.

There were regional differences in responses though,
highlighting the polarisation in attitudes on the topic.

Almost 90% of participants in China said they accepted a
vaccine, but the rate in Russia was less than 55%. In France,
the positive response rate 58.89%, compared with 75.4% in the
United States and 71.48% in Britain.

At least 60-70% of the population would need to have
immunity to break the chain of transmission, according to the
World Health Organization.

Respondents were aged 18 years or older from 19 countries
from among the top 35 countries affected by the pandemic in
terms of cases per million population.

The results will likely stir the debate about how to
overcome public safety concerns, particularly in Western
countries, about the frenetic speed of work to develop vaccines,
potentially hampering efforts to control the pandemic and revive
the global recovery.

There are about 200 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in
development globally, including more than 40 in human clinical
trials to test for safety and effectiveness. Many are being
squeezed into a matter of months for a process that would
typically take 10 years or longer.

"VACCINE HESITANCY"

Scott Ratzan, co-leader of Business Partners to CONVINCE and
lecturer at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health
Policy, said the data demonstrated diminished public trust.

"It will be tragic if we develop safe and effective vaccines
and people refuse to take them," he said in an email.

"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 immunisations."

Reporting a willingness to get vaccinated might not be
necessarily a good predictor of acceptance, as vaccine decisions
can change over time.

Also the poll took place before Russia started the mass
inoculation of its population with its Sputnik V shot before
full studies had been completed and AstraZeneca had to
pause its late-stage study in September due to a participant's
illness.

Last month, nine leading U.S. and European vaccine
developers issued a pledge to uphold scientific standards and
testing rigour.

Last week, Facebook Inc said it would start banning
ads that explicitly discouraged people from getting vaccinated.

Even before the pandemic, it was a growing challenge for
public health bodies. In January 2019 the World Health
Organization named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global
health threats for that year.

Countries where acceptance exceeded 80% tended to be Asian
nations, including China, South Korea and Singapore, where there
is strong trust in central governments, the study found.

A relatively high tendency toward acceptance in
middle-income countries, such as Brazil, India and South Africa,
was also observed.

Age also affected attitudes. Older people were more likely
to report that they would take a vaccine, whereas younger
respondents were more likely to accept an employer's vaccine
recommendation.

This finding might reflect who was actually employed or
employable at the time of the survey which was an issue they did
not investigate, it said.

(Reporting by Josephine Mason;
Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva;
Editing by Alison Williams)

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