Ten months into the coronavirus pandemic, more than 35 million have already been infected, and more than one million have died. Caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), remains a global health threat since there are still no available drugs and vaccines against the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 193 vaccines are being developed and tested against the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Of these, 42 vaccine candidates are in clinical evaluation, where ten vaccines are currently in phase 3 clinical trial. Scientists estimate that if the tests prove the vaccines’ efficacy and safety, a vaccine may be available for the public by early 2021.
Now, a new study published on the preprint server medRxiv* by scientists at the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, The Australian National University, University of Newcastle, and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance aimed to determine the public perfections regarding a future COVID-19 vaccine in Australia. They wanted to know if Australians would get the vaccine if one becomes available.
Most would get the vaccine
To arrive at the study findings, the research team conducted an online survey of Australian residents through a marker research company between March 18 and 24. More than 1,400 people participated in the survey who were more than 18 years old.
The team asked the respondents about their perception of the effectiveness of vaccines in general, priorities for COVID1-9 vaccine roll-out, and their social influences.
Overall, the participants held favorable views on vaccination. About 80 percent agreed that getting vaccinated for COVID-19 would be a good way to protect oneself against infection. Further, women were more likely to agree with the statement than men. Older people were also more likely to agree, with more than 90.9 percent agreeing than 76.6 percent in people aged 18 years old to 29 years old.
People with self-reported comorbidities or chronic illness and those who have private health insurance were more likely to get the vaccine. An estimated 78 percent said their family and friends supported their vaccine decision.
“This study presents an early indication of public perceptions towards a future COVID-19 vaccine and represents a starting point for mapping vaccine perceptions,” the team concluded in the study.
“To support an effective launch of these new vaccines, governments need to use this time to understand the community’s concerns and to identify the strategies that will support engagement,” they added.
Healthcare providers play a pivotal role in informing patients of the benefits of vaccines, particularly amid the raging pandemic. In Australia, where vaccines are delivered in primary care settings, the focus will be on supporting clinicians and nurses. However, the researchers said that due to the higher risk of infection in adult groups, other providers need to be considered.
COVID-19 global toll
The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, as countries report skyrocketing SARS-CoV-2 cases. The United States remains the nation with the highest number of confirmed cases, reaching more than 7.44 million infections and more than 210,000 deaths.
Other countries with ravaging infections include India, with more than 6.62 million cases, Brazil, with more than 4.91 million cases, and Russia, with more than 1.21 million cases. South American countries also report high case numbers, such as Colombia, with more than 855,000 cases, Peru, with more than 828,000 cases, and Argentina, with more than 798,000 cases.
However, of the 35.33 million confirmed infections, 24.57 million have already recovered.
medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.