The Coronacrisis is clearly showing what a virus can do to the world’s economy when no vaccine is available. So, the question arises, what does this new economic reality do to the sentiments surrounding vaccination? In the US, a recent study has shown that 25% of citizens would distrust a vaccine. Furthermore, 44% of Republican voters and 16% of Democratic voters believe a widespread conspiracy theory that Bill Gates is trying to inject people with some sort of microchips through the vaccine and thus feel awkward about accepting the cure and would rather ride out the disease.
Over in Europe, the sentiment is also growing. Recent figures show that the percentage of people who would oppose vaccination in Switzerland were 20%, in Austria 18%, in Germany 9% and in the UK 10%.
So, the overall question is: what will anti-vaxxers do?
Reasoning for a vaccine
Whether you are for in favor of a possible covid-19 vaccine (whose supporters use the hashtag #Ivaccine), or you are against it (whose supporters use the hashtag #bigpharma), both sides have a relevant argument to make. The compromise between the two sides could sound something like this: I don’t believe in being Vaccine-free, but I don’t just believe everything that pharmaceutical companies say, as they only serve their own interests.
The idea for many mothers in the US that big pharma will soon have to inject something into their healthy children of which the possible side-effects will not be known at the time it is released is worrying for many.
Add to this the fact that as from the beginning of the outbreak, experts and virologists emphasized that “our life will only return to normal when there is a vaccine” and you would almost think that the world unanimously yearns for that vaccine. Is that indeed the case? Or is it a vain hope?
The crisis itself will affect the willingness to vaccinate. Most people currently don’t know how vaccines are made, what they contain and what the (rare) negative possible consequences of shots are, but the Covid-19 crisis and its reporting is sure to change all that. The general public will mostly trust that it will be fine if the government and its institutions advise something, but when they start to worry about those institutions, for example because they are critical of the corona approach that governments have undertaken, this sentiment could change.
A recent study showed that the anti-vaccine feeling is growing in Europe as well. Researchers at the University of Erfurt in Germany have been keeping tabs on how Germans view the arrival of a possible Covid-19 vaccine. Remarkably, the percentage of people who want the vaccine dropped from 80 percent in mid-April to 63 percent on by mid-May. The recent figure is consistent with the result of a survey conducted by research firm Civic Science between May 6 and 11 among American citizens. In it, 69 percent said they wanted the vaccine, meaning that by now 31 percent of Americans are doubting.
It is possible that other forces also play a role. On the Internet, the global anti-vaccination movement has fought a fierce campaign, resulting in a movie called Plandemic which was viewed 8 million times before YouTube decided to take it down.
Furthermore, several American Facebook groups believe that the development of the rare Kawasaki disease in children, which has been popping up everywhere as of late, may not have been caused by the corona virus but by vaccinations.
It is notable that many online messages about the coronavirus are about philanthropist Bill Gates. Inaccurate messages circulate claiming that Microsoft wants to implant microchips to track the effect of the corona vaccine, a conspiracy theory that now 44 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats believe in.
Many point to the fact that Gates has been warning of the danger of a pandemic for years and organized a large-scale exercise six weeks before the coronavirus broke out. Both are correct, but there is no evidence to suggest that he orchestrated the pandemic himself.
The stories surrounding Bill Gates stem partly from concerns about the influence of the billionaire, whose foundation is the World Health Organization’s largest donor after the United States. Given that the White House recently decided to cut all ties with the WHO, expect the negativity surrounding Bill Gates to grow in the future.
Herd immunity and side-effects
In essence, whether resistance against a possible Covid-19 vaccine remains as big as it is mostly hinges on the weight between two sides. Those who do get vaccinated claim to contribute to herd immunity and thus protect vulnerable people in their environment, a factor that people are sensitive to as they aim to protect the elders of their own family. Those wo don’t get vaccinated claim that it is unsafe to inject children with a drug whose possible side effects will not be known at the time it will be ready.