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UK population ‘most trusting’ of Covid vaccines

by Jess Hacker
4 June 2021

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Almost nine in 10 people (87%) in the UK said they trust the Covid-19 vaccines, making it the ‘most trusting’ country, a new report has shown.

This was followed by 83% in Israel and 81% in Italy, with the lowest level of trust (47%) in Japan and South Korea.

The survey, led by Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation, looked at attitudes towards Covid-19 vaccines in 15 countries, including France (56%), Germany (63%) and the US (62%).

It also revealed that 70% of the 5,005 UK respondents trusted the health authority’s ability to provide an effective vaccine.

In five countries, under half of respondents did not believe in their government’s ability to do so, with trust lowest in South Korea (42%) and France (44%).

Trust in Pfizer increases as AstraZeneca declines

The survey, carried out between March and May 2021, also showed that trust in different vaccine brands varied, with Pfizer having the highest share of respondents aged under 40 in the UK.

Trust in Pfizer had also increased over time, whereas the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine had become less-trusted among all age groups, having previously been the most trusted among under-65s in March.  

A number of European countries suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March, following reports of blood clots after vaccination. At the time, GPs and pharmacists reported that the suspension was increasing vaccine hesitancy here in the UK.

The following month, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that patients under 30 should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine, following the MHRA’s review into reports of blood clots after vaccination.

The recommendation was extended to include patients aged 30-39 in May.

‘Work to be done’ to continue boosting confidence

Sarah Jones, co-project lead from the Institute of Global Health Innovation, said it was encouraging to see trust in the vaccines ‘steadily 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,’ she said.

‘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.’

Melanie Leis, co-project lead from the Institute of Global Health Innovation, said that the data provides an opportunity for leaders to ‘respond and help boost confidence in all approved vaccine brands, enabling vaccination programmes to reach more people and more effectively curb the pandemic’.

The report is part of a major ongoing effort to monitor changing patterns of health-related attitudes during the pandemic, with researchers surveying more than half a million people globally since April 2020.

The research was carried out in collaboration with YouGov and with contribution from the WHO working group on measuring behavioural and social drivers of Covid-19 vaccination.