The novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has left many scientists and pharmaceutical companies racing to develop an effective vaccine to combat the viral infection. With 21 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation, 139 candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluation across the world, most countries are hoping to be first to the post.
With more than 11.79 million people having been infected and a death toll of more than 543,000, an effective vaccine is the only hope to curb the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
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Some will not get the vaccine
Now in disconcerting news, a new survey in the United Kingdom from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) reveals that a significant amount of people in the United Kingdom, the European country with the highest number of infections, would either not have a coronavirus vaccine or were not sure if they would get one.
The YouGov conducted a poll from June 24 to 25, on behalf of the researchers at CCDH found that based on the poll of 1,663 people, a third of people would not likely get a coronavirus vaccine.
In the poll, the researchers asked the participants how inclined they would feel to get a vaccine once it gets available. About 6 percent of them said they would not get vaccinated, while 10 percent said they would “probably not.” An estimated 15 percent said they are not sure, which means that the total percentage of those who will not get the vaccine will be under a third of the total number of respondents.
The findings of the poll come amid a marked rise in anti-vaccination issues in social media, which pose a threat to efforts in containing the spread of the virus.
“Our hope for a return to normal life rests with scientists developing a successful vaccine for coronavirus. But social media companies’ irresponsible decision to continue to publish anti-vaccine propaganda means a vaccine may not be effective in containing the virus. The price for their greed is a cost paid in lives,” Imran Ahmed, the chief executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), said.
A report released by the CCDH, says that about 57 million people in the United Kingdom and the United States follow anti-vax accounts on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
The organization said that conspiracy theories are tied to reduced engagement in health-protective behaviors like vaccination, handwashing, and lockdown compliance. The report underlines the effect on relying on social media in getting information about the coronavirus disease, which is linked to failure in following public health guidance intended to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
“We found that people who rely more heavily on social media for information about COVID-19 are more likely to believe in COVID-19 conspiracy theories and that people who believe in COVID-19 conspiracy theories are less likely to be washing their hands more often and socially distancing,” Daniel Allington from King’s College London, said.
Nearing a vaccine approval
Many scientists have worked hard on developing an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, with some entering human trials.
In late June, the second human trial of a candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccine started in the United Kingdom, with about 300 volunteers.
Other vaccines are now being tested for efficacy and safety to make sure they will not pose a health threat to patients.
The global toll of the coronavirus spread been skyrocketing over the past week. The World Health Organization (WHO) worries that some countries may overwhelm their healthcare systems, such as developing countries. For one, Brazil has reported high infections, with more than 1.66 million cases, trailing behind the United States, which has a case toll of 2.99 million cases.
“The outbreak is accelerating, and we have clearly not reached the peak of the pandemic. While the number of deaths appears to have leveled off globally, in reality, some countries have made significant progress in reducing the number of deaths, while in other countries deaths are still on the rise,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a statement.
“Where there has been progress in reducing deaths, countries have implemented targeted actions toward the most vulnerable groups, for example, those people living in long-term care facilities,” he added.