61% Indians are sceptical about COVID-19 vaccine even if it is available in 2021
- • 33% citizens currently feel anxious or worried due to COVID-19 and restrictions, while 13% citizens feel depressed
October 23, 2020, New Delhi: Challenges induced by the novel coronavirus are unprecedented and will continue to linger for much longer even after a safe and effective remedy is made to fight the influenza. Scientists from around the world, including India are developing several vaccines that are at different stages of clinical trials. The Government of India maintains to have started to gear up to take these vaccines to every citizen.
At the time, “would you like to get the vaccine for yourself?” is a question raised to all citizens. LocalCircles conducted a survey to know the tentative perception of peoples’ reaction when the Government takes COVID-19 vaccine to its people. It also sought to know peoples’ current behaviour facing COVID-19 threats, and for how long will they continue to endure the suffering from the pandemic? The survey received over 25,000 responses from over 225 districts of India.
While the lockdown restrictions have been removed for almost all sectors, many people have been observing the discipline of not venturing out for entertainment and social activities, limiting their going out to purchase of essentials and earning their livelihood. This has had an impact on the mental state and overall well-being of some. To understand this better, LocalCircles asked respondents how they feel mentally after 8 months into the COVID-19 pandemic? Of 8,590 respondents, 33% said they feel “anxious or worried”, 19% said “calm and happy”, 13% said “depressed”, 5% said “enthusiastic”, 20% said they were feeling “thankful”, while 10% said none of the above.
With COVID-19 pandemic, 33% citizens are feeling anxious or worried; while 13% are feeling depressed
India is currently in the fifth phase of unlocking the lockdown, which has seen most restrictions removed. The Unlock 5.0 guidelines allow states and union territories to take a call on determining the capacity of people allowed to gather, along with the call to open schools, cinemas, multiplexes, among others. While the Central and State Governments are allowing operations of various services – such as markets, restaurants, metros, multiplexes, markets, parks, etc – the general guidelines mandates minimising social interactions, maximising social distancing, wearing masks when going out of the house, and avoiding crowded public places. These restrictions have led to a change in lifestyle for the majority of the people across the country. The Work From Home model has been implemented by many businesses, also leading to a significant change in the lifestyles of their employees.
To understand if people are tired of the new pandemic induced lifestyle, LocalCircles asked people, “How long do you think you can easily sustain this post Covid way of living with restriction?” 8,496 citizens participated, of which 38% said they are “willing to live the COVID-19 way of living for as long as it takes”, while 23% said they are “already tired of the restrictions”. While 14% respondents said “till December 31, 2020” and “till March 31, 2021,” 6% said “till June 30, 2021”, 2% said “till Sep 30, 2021”, and 3% said “till Dec 31, 2021”.
If the numbers are added up, 63% citizens feel they can easily sustain the post Covid way of living with restrictions till March 31, 2021.
63% citizens say they can easily sustain the COVID-19 way of living with restrictions till March 31, 2021
The complexity of the COVID-19 disease has put formidable challenges for scientists to develop a safe and effective vaccine. A host of pharmaceutical companies are heavily engaged in trials for a vaccine, and when it does become available in March-April 2021, per se, it is important that there is a certain level of trust that people have in the vaccine. LocalCircles’ survey finds that the “majority of citizens are sceptical about the COVID-19 vaccines that may be available in early 2021”.
To the question that asked respondents, “If the COVID-19 vaccine became available in the early part of next year, would you like to get it so you can go back to your pre-COVID lifestyle?”, 61% of 8,312 respondents said they are “sceptical about the COVID-19 vaccine and will not rush to take it in 2021 even if it is available”. Only 12% respondents said to “get vaccinated and go back to living pre-COVID lifestyle”, while 25% said they will “get vaccinated but still won't go back to pre-COVID lifestyle”, and 10% said they “won't take it at all in 2021”.
61% citizens sceptical about COVID-19 vaccine; say won’t rush to take it in 2021, even if its available
Citizens of India via LocalCircles in July 2020 raised the issue of an urgent need to develop a serial number tracking of COVID-19 vaccine to avoid any black marketing, and to track the vaccine from the point of manufacturing to the point of administration with the Department of Pharmaceuticals and the Ministry of Health and received a confirmation thereafter from the Government about it being evaluated.
On October 6, the Union Health Secretary announced that a digital platform is being built to track COVID-19 vaccine administration and movement from procurement to storage to distribution to individual beneficiaries. Prime Minister Modi recently announced that Indian scientists have shown encouraging results from the clinical trials to make a safe and effective vaccine and finally, when the vaccine reaches us, it is our responsibility to take a necessary call to action. The key action needed here by both the pharmaceutical industry and the Government is to keep citizens updated at every step about the vaccine via various media platforms so when a safe vaccine does arrive, the Indian citizenry is ready to take it.
25,000+ responses were received from citizens spread across 225 districts of India. 72% respondents were men, while 28% respondents were women. 54% respondents were from tier 1, 24% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.