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Almost a year with the pandemic: the results of an international Gallup research

People around the world are still mobilized against the threat, hoping for vaccines. However, the potential problems are becoming more significant. 

Assessments of government action in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic are still quite high, but they are gradually declining. Compared to last spring, the threat of the disease is also considered significant, but today people in most countries find it somewhat exaggerated. Travel restrictions are widely recognized as a means of combating a pandemic. Human rights sacrifices are also present, but not without criticism. Attitudes towards vaccines are very positive, although the shadow of doubt remains significant and even dominates in a number of countries.

These are the highlights of a new global research of attitudes to the coronavirus crisis, conducted by the Gallup International Association in late 2020. The study covers 47 countries and about 45,000 adults, which is about 2/3 of the world's population. Throughout 2020, the Gallup International Association has monitored the development of the global attitude of the population to the pandemic. The results presented below come from the fourth wave of global monitoring.

In Ukraine, the study was conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in collaboration with  Democratic Initiatives Foundation.  The survey was conducted in early December 2020 by the method of CATI (computer-assisted telephone interviews) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers. The sample is representative for the adult population (18 years and older) of Ukraine. The sample does not include territories that are temporarily not controlled by the authorities of Ukraine - the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. 1000 interviews were conducted during the survey. Statistical sampling error (with a probability of 0.95 and taking into account the design effect of 1.1) does not exceed 3,5%.

Government measures approved to combat the virus are still approved 

More than half of the world's population agrees or strongly agrees that their governments are coping well with the coronavirus. Two-fifths of all respondents disagree or strongly disagree. Others hesitate in their judgments. 

Three previous waves of polls have shown that national governments' approval of the COVID-19 crisis has remained high throughout 2020. However, at the end of the year, the initial increase in confidence in the national government gradually waned, and now the approval of governments’ actions to combat the pandemic is waning a little. This may be due to mistakes and miscalculations of the authorities in the field of crisis management or simply by the fact that people are familiar with the pandemic situation and fear no longer causes loyalty, or by the fact that they are tired of restrictions. The picture at the regional level is quite diverse - people in India (86% of respondents agree and fully agree that their government is doing well in this situation) and in Australia (82%) are most satisfied with how their government dealt with the coronavirus in late 2020.

People in Asia were generally satisfied with their governments' response to the coronavirus (resulting in a slightly higher level of satisfaction in the eastern parts of the continent) compared to other parts of the globe. The vast majority of respondents in Vietnam say they are satisfied with their government during the pandemic. The vast majority in the Republic of Korea, Azerbaijan and Malaysia also believe that their governments are managing the situation well. 

Citizens in the United States, Europe, and Latin America, on the other hand, are now most critical of how their governments address coronavirus proliferation issues. Dissatisfaction with the government is particularly high in terms of corona crisis management in Ukraine, the United States, the United Kingdom and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where more than two-thirds of respondents report dissatisfaction with their government.

Human rights against a pandemic is a problem that is growing 

Almost three-quarters of respondents around the world are willing to sacrifice some of their human rights, if it helps prevent the spread of the disease. A quarter of all respondents share the opposite opinion. 

However, there is a clear tendency to reduce the willingness to sacrifice human rights. People around the world seem to have overcome the initial shock of the new disease and are now increasingly reluctant to give up some of their rights. In the first waves of global polls in the spring of 2020, readiness to give up human rights around the world reached 80%. 

Most people in India, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and western countries of the EU are willing to sacrifice some of their human rights if it helps prevent the spread of the disease. Up to 90% of the population of Georgia and Vietnam say they are ready to give up some of their rights to fight the virus, a significant share of such respondents are observed in Germany, Côte d'Ivoire, Armenia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Austria, Ukraine. 

People in Russia, Latin America, the Eastern European Union and the United States are reluctant to relinquish their rights, even if it helps prevent the virus. 

Japan, Mexico, Peru, Palestine and the eastern part of the EU have the largest share of those reluctant to give up their rights in order to overcome the pandemic.

Obviously, travel restrictions are already seen as a "new norm". More than three-quarters of the world's countries agree or completely agree that restrictions on travel between countries are acceptable to combat the spread of coronavirus. A fifth of respondents disagree or strongly disagree with this. 

In regions such as Australia, East Asia, the US and the EU (especially in western EU countries), positive responses account for more than 80% of all responses (even 91% in Australia). More than half of Ukrainians also approve of travel restrictions between countries as a means of preventing the spread of COVID-19. The least acceptable travel restrictions are for the population of the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia - where up to a third of respondents oppose the consideration of travel restrictions as a good measure to combat the disease. 

The automatic approval of travel restrictions indicates the cohesion of society. However, fear still dominates freedom of will, and this is a worrying symptom for democracies - a year after the outbreak and a few months after the first vaccines. 

Is the threat exaggerated? Probably not, but the world today is not as sure of this as it was in April and May 2020. 

More than two-fifths of respondents from around the world agree or completely agree with the statement "I believe that the threat from the coronavirus is exaggerated." Yet most do not agree. The position that the threat is actually exaggerated is growing slightly compared to recent months. 

For example, at the beginning of last year, world public opinion about the exaggeration of this threat also became widespread. Later, during the so-called first peak of the disease, supporters of this particular view fell to a third of respondents, while those who did not support it accounted for almost two-thirds. However, in the summer, as the number of reported cases of COVID-19 cases decreased, the belief in exaggerating the problem began to grow again. Despite the fact that the number of new cases of COVID-19 increased again in the autumn and that many countries around the world have suffered from the expected second wave of coronavirus, the tendency to increase the belief that the crisis is exaggerated, persists in late 2020.

People in India seem to be more likely to believe that the health threat is exaggerated (more than half of all respondents share this view). A significant share of those who neglect danger are also in West Asia, Africa and non-EU countries. People in Kosovo, the Philippines, Nigeria and Pakistan are most likely to underestimate the threat. In Ukraine, the shares of those who support the view that the threat is exaggerated and those who do not support it are almost equal. 

On the other hand, the populations of Australia, the US and the EU (especially western EU countries) are more likely to reject the above statement. In countries such as Finland, the United Kingdom, Japan and Korea, the most significant differences.

Vaccines for me and my country 

COVID-19 vaccines and vaccines in general are trusted worldwide. However, in some countries, the reluctance to make possible vaccinations exceeds the willingness (readiness), even if vaccines are considered safe and effective. There is a need for further clarification from medical experts and government agencies to convince people of the safety of vaccines. 

More than two-thirds of people worldwide say they will enter vaccine against COVID-19, if it is publicly available and considered safe and effective. However, a quarter of respondents are likely to refuse the opportunity to be vaccinated. Less than 10% are hesitant about it. Among regions and large countries, people in India (85%) and Asia (up to 80% in the eastern part of the continent and 98% in Vietnam) are most willing to inject the Covid-19 vaccine. In Ukraine, 65% are ready to be vaccinated against coronavirus. 

People in Russia, Europe and Africa seem more reluctant to the idea of being vaccinated against Covid-19, even if access to the vaccines is simple and they are considered safe and effective. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, the Czech Republic and other European countries are most reluctant to receive the new COVID-19 vaccine. However, even in these countries there is no clear majority against the possibility of vaccination against COVID-19. The shares of those who are positive about vaccination and those who are reluctant to do so are almost equal.

Most respondents around the world believe that the vast majority of people in their countries would be vaccinated if there was an available coronavirus vaccine that was considered safe and effective. Another 17% believe that the majority in their country will not agree to the introduction of the vaccine, and 22% do not believe that there will be a clear majority on this issue.  

Again, people in India and East Asia in general (they have more than 70% positive responses) are more convinced that their compatriots will receive the new COVID-19 vaccine. In Ukraine, 52% believe that their compatriots will be vaccinated. People in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Africa, on the other hand, show uncertainty that their societies are ready for vaccination, while there is a significant share of negative responses (up to a quarter of all responses). In general, there is no significant majority in these regions when it comes to people's willingness to introduce a new coronavirus vaccine.

However, around the world, the majority of the population believes that a large proportion of the population prefers to be vaccinated in their home country if there is a new vaccine against COVID-19 that is considered safe and effective. 

It can also be assumed that the global coronavirus pandemic has made most people worldwide more likely to receive vaccines in general – 50% of respondents say they have this opinion. However, 18% say they are less likely to be vaccinated after a pandemic. 28% said their attitudes towards vaccines had not changed.

People in India, Asia and the Middle East are becoming more prone to vaccinations in general after a pandemic. In contrast, people in the EU and Europe as a whole, in the US, and in Ukraine often say that their views on vaccines have not changed. 

In general, it should be understood that nowhere in the world has the coronavirus pandemic caused a significant negative attitude towards vaccines in general. About one-fifth of all respondents in different regions share the opinion that they are currently less likely to be vaccinated, or less or much less. The largest share is in the Middle East and Europe (mainly in the eastern part of the EU and non-EU countries). 

Kancho Stoich,

President of the Gallup International Association:

"If the world adopts the so-called "new normality" born of the current corona crisis, the West's system of values will be the biggest victim. At stake is democracy, which, meanwhile, has acquired a dramatic flavor. Authoritarian regimes seem to be more effective in fighting a pandemic. Most Western governments (in a broader sense) tend to follow Beijing's rather than Stockholm's approaches to halting the spread of the disease and wonder why they fail, while human rights melt like spring snow before the dilemma of freedom or life. It may still sound speculative, and yet the victims are generations in the epic history of the struggle for individual rights to free choice, free movement and freedom of contact. Although democratic regimes are gradually moving to hospital, is there still a chance to avoid it?".

 

Methodology:

The Gallup International End-of-Year Survey (Eoy) is an annual tradition initiated and developed under the chairmanship of Dr. George Gallup in 1977. Since then, it is held annually. This year it was held in 47 countries. 

Coverage of regions:

▪ The EU as a whole unites the EU West and the EU East

▪ West of the EU - Austria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Great Britain

▪ Eastern EU - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland

▪ Non-EU Europe - Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine

▪ Latin America - Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru

▪ Middle East - Iraq, Jordan, Palestine

▪ East Asia - Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Vietnam,

▪ West Asia - Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkey

▪ Africa - Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire

▪ The United States, India, Australia and Russia are not included in any other regional category

 

Sampling size and mode of field work:

A total of 44,796 people were interviewed in 47 countries. In each country, during October-December 2020, a representative sample of approximately 1,000 men and women was interviewed, either in person, by telephone or online.

The survey error is from + 3-5% at the level of 95% confidence.

 

About Gallup International

Gallup International Association (GIA) is a leading global independent market research and survey association. 

For more than 70 years, Gallup International members have demonstrated their expertise in conducting surveys in different countries on a comparative basis and ensuring the highest quality. Our more than 100 members and partners are leading national institutes with in-depth local knowledge of research methods and methods, statistical sources, customs and cultural differences of their country and carefully selected by the Association Council. With only one member agency in each country, members work together daily to share knowledge, new research methods and tools, and to provide the most appropriate solutions for international research projects and to serve our clients as best they can.

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12.2.2021
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