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Vaccine hesitancy a concern worldwide 

A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine" sticker and a medical syringe in front of displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken, on Oct 30, 2020. 

A new survey from United Kingdom researchers on attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination across 15 nations has found that just four in 10 people would be willing to receive treatment, well below the estimated threshold needed to reach herd immunity.

Out of 13,500 respondents surveyed by Imperial College London, just 41 percent of people said they would accept vaccination at the time of the survey, which was conducted between Nov. 11 and Nov. 24, with 51 percent saying they would be willing to get vaccinated next year.

There is concern among health experts that growing vaccine skepticism could jeopardize efforts to achieve herd immunity. Multiple health departments are working on the assumption that a threshold of between 65 and 70 percent vaccine coverage will be necessary to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"There is a lot of evidence that vaccines are safe, but unfortunately there is also a lot of misinformation out there," said Sarah Jones, project colead and doctoral researcher at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, or IGHI, at Imperial College London.

The survey, which was conducted before the UK approved the Pfizer vaccine, covered 10 nations in Europe, as well as Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan and Singapore.

Among the countries surveyed, France had the highest vaccine hesitancy, with just a quarter of respondents saying they would receive treatment at the time of the survey, rising to 35 percent next year. The UK had the lowest vaccine hesitancy, with 65 percent saying they would agree to a shot in 2021, rising from 54 percent in November.

Fear over possible side effects was among the most common concerns. More than half of global respondents (54 percent) were worried about side effects, with people in France and Spain showing the greatest concern (66 percent and 67 percent respectively) while those in the UK and Denmark had the least concern (31 percent and 29 percent respectively). By ANGUS McNEICE in London | China Daily Global | 

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