Will People Want to be Vaccinated Against Covid? Opinion Varies

Will People Want to be Vaccinated Against Covid? Opinion Varies

Misinformation spread by anti-vaxx conspiracy theorists makes people less likely to get a coronavirus vaccine when one is available, a study has found.

A survey of 4,000 Britons found exposure to misinformation on social media decreases the amount of people willing to get the jab by 6.4 per cent.

The same study replicated in the US reveals Americans are less susceptible to fake news, with misinformation triggering only a 2.4 per cent drop in vaccine uptake. However, the initial level for vaccine uptake is 12 per cent lower than in the UK.

A separate study, published yesterday, quizzed 1,252 English parents and guardians and found 89.3 per cent of people would either ‘definitely’ get the vaccine or were ‘unsure but leaning towards yes’.

Both studies were conducted by experts at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Professor Pauline Paterson, Co-Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project, found BAME individuals were almost three times more likely to reject the vaccine than white people.

The other major group of people to be more likely to reject a vaccine is people who have a lower household income.

The study, published in the journal Vaccine, found people with a household income of less than £35,000 were approximately twice as likely to reject a vaccine.

But the most wealthy, people in a household with more than £85,000 in income a year, were three times as likely to say yes than the middle bracket.

Dr Paterson said: ‘While it is great to see that most parents and guardians would accept a COVID-19 vaccine, our research has revealed worrying disparities.

‘We know ethnic minority and lower-income groups are disproportionally affected by COVID-19, so it’s imperative that health officials focus on strategies to boost vaccine confidence in these communities.’

Professor Heidi Larson quizzed 8,000 people on their vaccine beliefs and found a similar breakdown in the amount of deniers and advocates.

In her study 54 per cent of Britons said they would ‘definitely’ accept a vaccine whereas for the other study this figure was 55 per cent.

Some experts estimate a Covid-19 vaccine will need to be accepted by at least 55 per cent of the population to provide herd immunity.

Her research, which is currently available as a non-peer reviewed pre-print, then showed prominent examples of misinformation to 3,000 Britons and 3,000 Americans.

A thousand participants on either side of the Atlantic were given accurate information from legitimate sources.

The fake news online dramatically knocked confidence in vaccines and the likelihood to accept one.

The data shows misinformation led to a decline in the willingness to receive a Covid-19 jab, when one is available, from 54 per cent to 47.6 per cent in the UK and from 41.2 per cent to 38.8 per cent in the US.

Misinformation dressed up to look like it was from a scientific source was the most effective form of propaganda, the study reveals.

Participants were shown five examples including claims 5G caused Covid-19, that the pandemic is a conspiracy or a bioweapon, and that vaccine participants have died after taking a candidate COVID-19 vaccine – none of which are true.

Professor Heidi Larson from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and study lead said: ‘COVID-19 vaccines will be crucial to helping to end this pandemic and returning our lives to near normal.

‘However, vaccines only work if people take them. Misinformation plays into existing anxieties and uncertainty around new vaccines, as well as the new platforms that are being used to develop them.

‘This threatens to undermine the levels of COVD-19 vaccine acceptance required.’

The main issues cited by vaccine-hesitant individuals focus on the safety of the vaccine, with people worried its rapid development will lead to health problems.

One of the most potent pieces of misinformation was a post claiming a mRNA vaccine, a regularly-used technique and the one used by Pfizer, will cause a person’s DNA to mutate.

This is not only untrue, but physically impossible due to the different structure and role of the two types of genetic material.

‘The post had an image of mRNA and DNA and it looked like it could have been in a scientific textbook but the conclusion it claims is that you will become a genetically modified human being,’ Professor Larson explains.

‘This was more effective than image of Bill Gates holding a needle looking with dark glasses and doesn’t look like it came out of a scientific textbook.

‘In a number of cases we know who makes the posts and some are highly public. We picked the ones that are the most frequently shown.’

Related Articles

Back to top button