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Poll: 1.3 billion people would refuse COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando/TNS)
May 26, 2021

A poll released this month by Gallup revealed that up to 1.3 billion adults may be unwilling to take a coronavirus vaccine.

The Gallup poll, conducted throughout the latter half of 2020 among respondents in 16 countries, found that 68 percent of adults worldwide would agree to be vaccinated while the remaining 32 percent of adults said they would not take a vaccine. The poll was conducted through interviews with about 1,000 respondents per country polled.

In total, the 32 percent of adults globally who would refuse a vaccine would translate to a global population of about 1.3 billion people.

The Gallup poll found that willingness to take the vaccine ranged from as high as 96 percent in Myanmar to as low as 25 percent in Kazakhstan.

Reporting on their polling data, Gallup noted some assessments that it would take 70 to 90 percent to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity in a population. Gallup reported just 38 of the 116 countries surveyed indicated they would take the vaccine in high enough numbers to clear that low-end estimate of 70 percent vaccination to achieve herd immunity. Myanmar was the only country to exceed the high-end estimate of 90 percent vaccination to achieve herd immunity.

Potentially complicating the data are shifts in public opinion of the vaccines over the stretch of time Gallup conducted its polling in 2020, and the time since. For example, Gallup reported in their 2020 survey, U.S. responses to the vaccine showed about 53 percent were willing to vaccinate. Gallup reported new polling in March of this year indicated a shift, with 74 percent of Americans saying they would take one of the four vaccines available in the U.S., if it were made available at no cost.

Fox 5 New York reported, citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that so far more than 130 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, representing 39.2 percent of the total U.S. population.

Gallup reported the highest rate of vaccine opposition came from eastern European and former Soviet states, including Russia. Prior to the global COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Gallup researched on behalf of the Wellcome Global Monitor for 2018, and found people in eastern European and former Soviet states were already among the least likely in the world to trust vaccines in general as safe and effective.

Now those eastern European and former Soviet states are among the 20 countries surveyed where fewer than half of respondents said they would not take a COVID-19 vaccine.

Even if high numbers of vaccinations occur, reaching herd immunity could also be complicated by mutations of the coronavirus. The New York Times reported mutated variants of COVID-19 are occurring and spreading at a rate that outpaces vaccinations.