Only half of Americans would be willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if scientists working against the clock to create it could do so, according to a survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
It is an unusually low proportion, given the efforts being made in the global race to achieve a coronavirus vaccine that has caused a pandemic since its appearance in China late last year. But some people would be convinced to roll up their sleeves: According to the survey released Wednesday, 31% were simply not sure if they would get the vaccine. One in five said they would refuse.
Public health specialists already fear the backlash if promises like President Donald Trump’s to have 300 million doses by January are not kept. Only time and science will give the answer, and the new survey reveals that people are indeed skeptical.
“It is always best to promise less and do more,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“The fear of the unforeseen is very great, and that’s why I think that for any of these vaccines we will need a very large security database to give people peace of mind,” he said.
Among Americans who would reject the vaccine, seven out of 10 fear for its safety and side effects.
The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Francis Collins, says that safety comes first. The NIH is developing a plan to test the major vaccine projects on tens of thousands of people to demonstrate their effectiveness while being safe.
“I don’t want people to think that we are cutting the road because it would be a big mistake. We are making great efforts to achieve efficiency, but not at the cost of rigor, “Collins told the AP days ago.
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“Without a doubt, the worst thing that could happen is rushing to use a vaccine that later turns out to cause serious side effects,” he insisted.
Among those who want the vaccine, the AP-NORC survey found that the main reasons are protection for themselves, their families, and people in general.
And seven in 10 of those who would be vaccinated maintain that life will not return to normal without a vaccine.
This coronavirus is most dangerous for older adults and people of any age with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart problems. According to the survey, 67% of those over 60 say they would receive the vaccine, compared to 40% of those under that age.
Death rates indicate that black and Hispanic Americans are more vulnerable to getting sick from COVID-19 due to less access to health care and other factors. However, 25% of African Americans and 37% of Hispanics would receive the vaccine, compared to 56% of whites.
The agency said the vaccine must be a public good so that everyone can have access to it.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases number 5.5 million people worldwide, and deaths exceed 340,000. In the United States the death toll exceeds 100,000, as confirmed by NBC News. Specialists believe that the true figures are much higher.
And while most sufferers recover, doctors continue to discover that coronavirus often causes much more than just pneumonia, from blood clots to kidney and heart disorders. More recently, a potentially fatal inflammatory reaction was discovered in children.
Whatever the final mortality figures are, specialists agree that the new coronavirus appears to be more deadly than the common cold. However, the survey indicates that the vaccine would not be more accepted than the one already known for influenza.
Around the world, there are a dozen vaccine projects in the early stages of clinical trials or about to start. In Britain, a vaccine created at the University of Oxford is set to run tests on 10,000 people.