At least eight in 10 people would take a Covid-19 vaccine if it was publicly available and deemed safe and effective, a survey carried out in several African countries shows.
Overall, willingness, or not, to take the vaccine depended mostly on trust as well as perceptions of its importance, safety, and efficacy, according to a survey by the study by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Orb international.
According to Vaccine Confidence Project, safety was of utmost consideration; on average 18 percent of Africans believe vaccines generally are not safe and 25 percent think that a Covid-19 vaccine would be unsafe.
From the survey carried out in 15 African countries, men, young people, and people who believe that the threat from Covid-19 is exaggerated are more likely to believe in disinformation compared with the rest of the population. Those who would not take the vaccine cited safety as a leading concern.
In East Africa, the study by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) survey shows that the global pandemic has Kenyans (64 percent) more likely to receive the vaccine, and 85 percent saying they would actually go for the vaccine.
This compares with 79 percent African average acceptance of the vaccine.
Double-edged technology sword
Whereas the overall vaccine perception is high, data from the survey shows significant variations in willingness across countries as well as the five regions in the continent, from 94 and 93 percent, respectively, in Ethiopia and Niger to 65 and 59 percent, respectively, in Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is concern that people who deem the vaccine unsafe could influence those still uncertain if they will ultimately take it, said Raji Tajudeen, head of public health institutes and research at Africa CDC.
Across the region, people are more likely to believe that the Covid-19 vaccine, in particular, is not safe, with DRC registering the highest safety concern at 43 percent. In Kenya 23, Uganda 19 and Sudan 25 percent.
Disinformation is false or misleading information spread deliberately to deceive. Covid-19 is the first pandemic in history in which technology and social media are being used on a massive scale to keep people informed, productive, and connected. Conversely, the WHO has said, the same technology is enabling and amplifying an infodemic that has undermined the global response.
The study carried out between August and December 2020, interviewed 15,000 adults, over the age of 18 across 15 African countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, and Uganda. It had a sampling from both urban and rural populations.
Other factors that contributed to a reluctance to take the vaccine included reasons like people did not trust in the safety of the vaccine, others felt the threat of Covid-19 is exaggerated, some denied the existence of the virus or personally didn’t feel they are at risk of catching it, yet some believed that the vaccine can actually give a person the disease.