Most people who are reluctant to be vaccinated against Covid are worried about side-effects and whether the vaccines have been adequately tested, a survey in 15 countries has shown.
Other reasons cited in the survey of 68,000 people, led by Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation in collaboration with YouGov, were the uncertainty that people would not get the vaccine they preferred and worries about efficacy.
The survey was carried out in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Excluding eligibility, the top reasons for not having the vaccine across all 15 countries surveyed were “concerns about side effects” and/or “concerns that there has not been enough testing of vaccines”.
Trust in vaccines was highest in the UK, at 87%, and lowest in Japan, at 47%. The UK respondents also had the highest level of confidence in their health authorities (70%), while South Korea had the lowest (42%).
Among those who had not yet been vaccinated, confidence was highest in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in nine out of the 15 countries, and in three others – Canada, Singapore and Sweden – among those under 65.
The US had the largest number of people across all ages saying they did not trust any of the Covid vaccines. The survey, which has been running since last year, found that until March the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was the most trusted in the UK among the under-65s, but confidence in it has declined in all age groups with the publicity over side effects. In most other countries, trust in Oxford/AstraZeneca is low, as with Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm vaccines.
Prof Ara Darzi, the co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation, said: “Effective Covid-19 vaccination programmes are about demand as much as supply, and this global survey reveals important insight into why people might not put themselves forward to take one if offered.
“It’s vital that leaders listen to these concerns and address them with urgency so that more people will be willing to accept these life-saving vaccines.”
Sarah Jones, the co-project lead at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, said: “Our programme has been tracking people’s attitudes towards Covid-19 vaccines since November and it’s encouraging to see that trust has steadily been climbing.
“However, our findings show that there is still much work to be done to reassure the public of the safety and effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.
“We hope that sharing the concerns people have raised will spur timely and targeted responses from governments that will inform and educate the public about the importance of vaccination.”