Why America Trails Asia In Their COVID-19 Response

As the US increases their COVID-19 case counts at an alarming rate and their death toll has passed 150,000 people, misinformation and conspiracy theories continue to distort social media and distract Americans from what is really going on. Unlike most Asian nations which have come together to unite in their response, the US is very much divided upon partisan ideological lines. And now new research into their attitudes toward a vaccine further demonstrates why America trails Asia in their COVID-19 response.

Fewer than half of all people responding to a new WebMD poll say they plan to get a vaccine for Covid-19 within the first year of availability, and only one in four (26%) would get a vaccine in the first three months.

The poll of more than 1,000 respondents comes amid the release of early data from vaccine clinical trials, with debates about education, travel and the reopening of business sectors often hinging on approval of one or more candidates by early 2021.

The findings suggest many remain wary or are taking a wait and see approach.  In the WebMD poll, only 43% of respondents said they would get the vaccine in the first year, which includes the 26% who would get vaccinated within the first three months.  An additional 30% said they weren’t sure, and 28% said they were not planning to get the vaccine at all.

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Of those who expressed uncertainty about getting vaccinated, 78% cited concerns about potential side effects, with 15% saying they believed the vaccine would not be effective in protecting against the virus.

 “The vaccine hesitancy revealed in the poll should be a wake-up call to policy makers and the medical community that we as a society need more effective strategies for living with coronavirus,” said John Whyte, MD, WebMD Chief Medical Officer.   “Some people won’t get it, others will wait, and still others aren’t ready to commit either way.  Without widespread vaccine acceptance we won’t achieve the herd immunity that comes with it.  We need to begin to provide the public with tools and strategies that they can incorporate into their daily lives to mitigate their risk, while increasing testing and contact tracing known to be effective public health measures.”

The U.S. has more than 4.2 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 15,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. But CDC data estimates a much higher prevalence of the disease.

It also has a problem with deliberate misinformation campaigns on social media. This United Nations campaign would be helpful.

Source: WebMD poll of 1,000 readers, July 26-27, 2020.