With the immediate shock of the last few months of COVID behind us, I imagined the following scenario would play out in the US:
Summer 2020: Summer semi-recovery
Fall 2020: The panic of returning back to work/school
Winter 2020/21: Multiple rounds of temporary lockdowns
Summer 2021: Vaccine roll-out
Fall 2021: A settling down into the new normal (the worst new cliché!)
I floated this scenario with some esteemed colleagues: infectious disease physicians, epidemiologists and immunologists. They all more or less agreed this was a likely path. Of course, while we wait for a vaccine, other forms of monitoring would improve how we navigate the crisis and how we adjust to the uncertainty. Better contact tracing, more accurate serology testing, reliable monitoring and rapid response to hotspots, for example. We might be able to improve management, but instability would be par-for-the-course and a vaccine is the goalpost.
What I failed to foresee is that less than half of Americans plan to get the vaccine. This despite the fact that almost 80% say that it is an important criteria for re-opening activities and businesses in their areas. The poll that was recently published by NORC indicated that the primary reason for not getting the vaccine would be concern about side effects, followed by the fear of getting infected by Coronavirus as a result of the vaccine. This was corroborated by a similar poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos.
I was somewhat incredulous and was determined to wheedle out an error in the findings. But alas, it seems to bear out. The results of a study that the Insights & Innovation team recently conducted suggest similar outcomes, and this wasn’t just in the US, but across multiple different countries, with Germany being the most reluctant.
I have yet to uncover the complete WHY behind these results, but we will save that for next time.