Politics spoiling Americans’ trust in COVID-19 vaccines

coronavirus vaccine approval transparency
Credit: Graeme Sloan
[H]ow can politicians convince large swathes of the American public to take a vaccine once it becomes available? The answer may be counterintuitive, but simple: Keep mum, and let the scientists and public-health experts share the facts with the American people.

In a study of American attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination, just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, we found that Americans’ support for vaccination declines in the face of political involvement in the vaccine process.

A Trump endorsement dampens the likelihood that individuals will vaccinate (see Figure 1). A Biden endorsement fares no better statistically. Despite missteps by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in responding to COVID-19, endorsements by either would be a more powerful lure for Americans than either a Trump or Biden endorsement.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Moving forward with human gene editing requires scientists to 'educate, engage, and empower' the public, policymakers
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An effective public-health strategy should incorporate what we are learning about public attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccine. And what we are learning clearly indicates that politics has no place in the vaccination process.

politics covid
Figure 1: Vaccine attributes and preferences. Marginal mean willingness for each attribute refers to subjects’ likelihood of accepting a vaccine with the specific characteristic in question, averaged across all other vaccine features.

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