“To vaccinate or not to vaccinate” – that will be a major question in the coming months.
At this point, according to Heidi Larson, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, “Anti-Vaccination sentiment is going into the mainstream.”
While many media outlets and health officials continue to paint the anti-vax movement as fomented by anti-science extremists, the polling shows otherwise. As Dr. Larson noted, “A lot of people you never would have imagined are now saying that maybe the anti-vaccination lobby has a point.”
In the U.S., pro and con vaccine polls vary. A YouGov poll taken during the last week in July showed 69 percent of U.S. adults have concerns about the safety of coronavirus vaccines. A 7 August Gallup poll, however, showed one in three won’t accept getting vaccinated.
The low acceptance number has health officials concerned, as virologists predict that for a vaccine to be successful in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, at least 60 to 70 percent of people would have to get vaccinated.
Still, there are many trying to make this a purely political rather than health issue. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, commenting on the polls showing growing concerns about the safety of a vaccine, claimed President Trump is the reason for the trend: “It’s not the usual anti-vaccine crowd – it’s beyond that – because people are losing faith in what the President says.”
Mr. Biden’s claim is weakened by the facts.
Firstly, the Trump administration labeled the U.S. drive to be first with a successful vaccine as “Warp Speed.”
And, while Democrats are more willing to get vaccinated, a YouGov poll shows that “Most Democrats, Independents, and Republicans say they are concerned about the safety of a vaccine being fast-tracked through the approval process.”
The poll also shows close to half of the Democrats who participated say they either won’t get vaccinated or are unsure.
Barry Bloom, Professor of Public Health at Harvard, pointed out that many of those concerned about getting the vaccine are liberal, highly educated people: “If you want to map where the anti-vaccination movement is strongest, just look for your nearest Whole Foods.”
It should also be noted that Robert F. Kennedy Jr, obviously from one of the major Democratic party families, is the head of a global project critical of the use of mercury in vaccinations, and he has given speeches citing how politicians love pandemics because it gives them more power to control citizens.
The anti-vaccination movement is growing in other parts of the world as well, particularly western Europe. A poll conducted by King’s College London in August found only about 50 percent of the U.K. citizens were very likely to get injected if and when a vaccine arrives.
In France, the Welcome Trust poll taken in June found that about one third said vaccinations were unsafe.
The survey revealed some 22 percent of people in Western Europe have a negative view about vaccines. Eastern Europeans also have a high degree of concern, with close to 20 percent critical of vaccinations.
The most recent global poll was conducted for the World Economic Forum on 31 August, which showed 26 percent of adults from 27 nations were against getting vaccinated.
“Warp Speed” Ahead
The major reason for the much higher number of people suspicious of a COVID-19 vaccine compared to previous ones is the rush to get one out. As Reuters reported on 6 August, “The frenetic race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has intensified safety concerns about an inoculation, prompting governments and drug makers to raise awareness to ensure their efforts to beat the coronavirus aren’t derailed by public distrust.”
Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, admitted, “I did not properly understand the groundswell of resistance that is now out there… Maybe there’s an aspect of the Warp Speed brand name that isn’t helping here.”
The fastest any previous vaccine was developed was for mumps, which took four years. Even a few pharmaceutical executives, known to rush drugs into use to reap enormous profits, have voiced concerns.
Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck, in a Harvard Business Review interview on 30 June, noted it usually takes a full decade to develop successful vaccines. He issued a warning about the safety of a vaccine if it is put out too soon.
There are currently more than 200 COVID-19 vaccines in development around the world. Following the frequent use of “War” analogies by media when reporting almost any major issue, the Global Times had this lead paragraph in its 12 August article on the rush to get a vaccine to market:
“The battlefield of a global vaccine race has seemingly transferred from research and development to market after Russia announced its approval of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday [11 August], soon after which the U.S. announced to purchase another 100 million doses of a domestic candidate, revealing the Trump administration’s anxiety over Russia’s move.”
The “battlefield” also is being created by health officials and the pharmaceutical industry revving up a campaign to encourage widespread acceptance of getting vaccinated. Yet, as evidenced in the article above, the anti-vax numbers are growing. In addition to concerns over the “warp speed” to get a vaccine out overall, there are those suspicious of the political pressure if a vaccine was to come out before the upcoming presidential election.
Fighting back the growing suspicion, many American drug companies have procured the services of a group to send out pro-vaccination notices. And in November, the United States Department of Health and Human Services plans to launch an advertising blitz using medical experts and celebrities to promote the vaccine and counteract those opposed to being vaccinated.
TREND FORECAST: The growing anti-vax movement in the U.S. started before COVID-19. The number of American children not getting vaccinated for measles, mumps, and other diseases has quadrupled over the past 15 years, based on data published in October 2017 by the CDC.
As we had forecast, beyond the United States, a key platform of new “populist” political parties (along with lowering taxes) will be a strong anti-vaccine movement.
TRENDPOST: Yesterday, shares of AstraZeneca fell over 6 percent in after-hours trading following Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s announcement they were halting tests after a participant experienced a serious adverse reaction.
AstraZeneca didn’t reveal any information about the side effects, saying that its “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.”
“We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline,” the company said.
TRENDPOST: The overall expectation by the mainstream media, financial institutions, businesses, politicians, and the general public is that life will not return to “normal” until a COVID vaccine comes to market.