The successful development of a coronavirus vaccine could provide a degree of protection from coronavirus and allow lockdowns to be lifted more safely, therefore allowing economies to reopen fully. Around the world, dozens of vaccines are at various stages of the development cycle, from laboratory to clinical trials. China and Russia have approved vaccines without waiting for the results of Phase 3 efficacy trials, a decision that carries considerable risks. Meanwhile, in Europe, the executive director of the European Medicines Agency has recently stated that it is “very unlikely” that a coronavirus vaccine will be available by the end of this year.
In Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest polling in France, Germany, Great Britain, and Italy, we found significant differences in how the public in these four countries feel about receiving a coronavirus vaccine once one becomes available. Our research found the greatest amount of scepticism in France, where a plurality (39%) say they will not get themselves vaccinated if a coronavirus vaccination becomes available at little to no financial cost within the next year. Meanwhile, 37% of French respondents say they would get a vaccine.
By contrast, a clear majority of those polled in Germany (57%), Great Britain (63%) and Italy (55%) would receive a vaccine if one becomes available within the next year, although around a fifth (20-23%) of the public in these countries instead say they would not get vaccinated. Moreover, a substantial minority across all four countries (17-24%) don’t know if they would receive a vaccine, which is likely a reflection of the uncertainty that surrounds the safety of the trials and approval process for new vaccines.
Since June, the proportion of the French public who say they will take a coronavirus vaccine has decreased considerably. In France, a clear plurality (48%) of those polled four months ago said they would get a vaccine if one becomes available, eleven percentage points higher than the proportion who now say they would get vaccinated. In Italy, 61% said in June that they would take the coronavirus vaccine, which is five points higher than at this stage in October. Moreover, the proportion of the British public who say they would get the vaccine has also declined by eight points since our poll in June, when 71% said they would get themselves vaccinated. Thus, although the proportion who would still get vaccinated remains much higher in Great Britain and Italy than in France, since June there have been significant declines in all three countries as pertains public trust in the safety of a coronavirus vaccination.
Meanwhile, the proportion of German respondents who say they would receive a coronavirus vaccine has remained stable since June: 56% said they would be vaccinated in June, whereas 57% say they would get vaccinated at this point, a change that falls within the margin of error of the poll.
Overall, in three of the four major European nations polled, the willingness to take a coronavirus vaccine has declined considerably (5-11%) across the past four months. German respondents, nevertheless, remain just as likely to get a coronavirus vaccine as they were in June. Scepticism about vaccines is most prominent in France, where a plurality now say they would not receive a vaccine. Although a majority of the British, German and Italian public say they would receive a vaccine, substantial minorities either would not or don’t know if they would get vaccinated.