UK should prioritise vaccinating other countries over boosters at home – poll
- 63% would prefer the UK to share vaccines with developing countries rather than deliver more boosters at home, to prevent the spread of new variant
- 72% support the idea that ‘Ending the Covid-19 pandemic globally in 2022 should be the top priority for the UK Government
- 72% believe the UK economy will continue to suffer until the pandemic is defeated globally
The UK public supports sharing vaccines with people in developing countries over receiving more boosters at home, according to a new Savanta ComRes poll.
The poll shows that a clear majority of British people think the virus cannot be brought under control unless the UK helps other countries defeat it, and would be prepared make sacrifices in order to help prevent the spread of new Covid-19 variants.
In the survey, commissioned by The ONE Campaign, 63% of respondents agreed that ‘if new variants are likely in countries that have low levels of vaccine access, we should prioritise ensuring the Covid-19 vaccine is available everywhere over additional (fourth) booster shots in the UK’.
Fifty-three per cent said they would personally be ‘willing to forgo my booster so that a vulnerable person or frontline worker in another country who has not had their first shot could receive a dose’.
The UK Government’s response to Covid-19 has understandingly been domestic in its focus, but the poll shows that the public supports it doing more to share vaccines globally, in order to prevent the spread of new variants in the UK.
A majority of respondents to the survey commissioned by The ONE Campaign, which works to end global poverty and disease, furthermore think that the disparity in vaccination levels between rich and poor countries is both unwise and unfair. Sixty-five per cent agreed it was ‘unfair’ that only 4.5% of people in low-income countries were fully vaccinated compared to 70% in high-income countries, and sixty-six per cent agreed that the longer we wait to fully vaccinate the world, the greater the threat posed by highly transmissible variants to us all.
Lis Wallace, Director of UK Policy and Advocacy at The ONE Campaign, which commissioned the poll, said: “The UK public clearly understands that we need to vaccinate the world to end the pandemic at home.
“We can only stop the virus disrupting daily life here by preventing dangerous new variants from emerging and spreading rapidly elsewhere in the world.
“The findings also show a deep sense of fairness is driving British attitudes to how we address global vaccine access and people recognise that vaccinating the world is both the smart thing to do and the right thing to do. It’s time that the Government caught up with the British public on this – by stepping up our global efforts to end this pandemic for good.”
Since vaccines first became available in Western countries a year ago, health experts have warned that distributing vaccines as widely and as equitably as possible around the world is essential to controlling the disease, given the ease with which new variants travel.
The Omicron variant, first reported in South Africa, has spread rapidly in the UK, leading to the partial reintroduction of lockdown measures and bringing new waves of mass infection and a rising death toll. It has been a similar picture across Europe, while the new variant is now in the early stages of its rampage across much of the world.
Vaccination rates vary wildly globally. About 62% of people in Britain have received a booster vaccine. However, only 8.9% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.
ONE is also calling for the Government to contribute its fair share of the £1 billion towards the financing needed by the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) to purchase enough vaccines, tests, treatments, and PPE in low- and middle-income countries, and to ensure they are delivered and administered quickly.
Key survey findings
- 63% of survey respondents agree that ‘If new variants are likely in countries that have low levels of vaccine access, we should prioritise ensuring the Covid-19 vaccine is available everywhere over additional (fourth) booster shots in the UK.’
- 53% ‘would be willing to forgo my booster so that a vulnerable person or frontline worker in another country who has not had their first shot could receive a dose’.
- 72% support the idea that ‘Ending the Covid-19 pandemic globally in 2022 should be the top priority for the UK Government.
- 66% agree that ‘It is a moral failure that, two years into the pandemic, there is uneven access to the vaccine between high-income and low-income countries.’
- 68% agree that ‘We’ll never ‘get back to normal life’ unless the vaccine is available everywhere, to everyone’
- 73% agree that the ‘world can’t move on properly until we’ve beaten the virus everywhere’.
- 72% agree that ‘The UK economy will continue to suffer unless the pandemic is beaten globally’, while 70% think ‘2022 will be safer and more prosperous if we truly end the pandemic globally’.
- 70% agree that we should ‘Rapidly speed up the delivery of doses that the UK has promised to share’, and 73% agree shared doses ‘should have a sufficient shelf life and be supplied in a predictable way’.
- 66% agree that the UK should publish up-to-date information on the status of dose sharing, with 64% agreeing that the Government should stop buying more vaccines than it needs so that countries that don’t have enough can administer first and second doses.
Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,186 UK adults aged 18+ online from 7th-9th January 2022. Data was weighted to be representative of all UK adults by age, sex, region, and SEG. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
Savanta ComRes is a leading research consultancy specializing in Polling, Corporate Reputation, Public Policy, Social research and Communications
The policy briefing laying out the steps Government must take to up its contribution to the global fight against Covid-19 is here.
For media queries please contact Chris Mitchell via [email protected] or call 07901006799
Lis Wallace, Director UK Policy and Advocacy, and Romilly Greenhill, UK Director are available for briefing and comment by request.