Less than half of healthcare workers polled recently in the Chinese province of Zhejiang would receive a Chinese coronavirus vaccine candidate after its emergency approval, while just one-quarter of medical workers in Zhejiang are willing to get a coronavirus vaccine once they are available for all people.
Zhejiang’s disease control and prevention center (CDC) surveyed 756 healthcare and epidemic prevention workers in the eastern province for the vaccine poll, released on February 18. Just 42 percent of the medical workers polled would get a coronavirus vaccine candidate approved for emergency use by the Chinese government and “fewer still, only 28 percent, said they were willing to get a shot of their own accord once the vaccines were on the market for all,” the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Friday.
The Zhejiang CDC study’s authors said that most people who expressed an unwillingness to be vaccinated cited concerns about potential health side-effects the inoculations may cause. In response, they recommended the provincial government should further educate the public about the “effectiveness and safety” of Chinese-made vaccines.
In Shanghai, which borders Zhejiang, the municipal CDC polled 1.8 million residents last month and found that only half of those surveyed would be willing to receive a Chinese coronavirus vaccine candidate, according to the SCMP.
The two recent Chinese poll results contradict the findings of a study released in December by the World Economic Forum and the market research firm Ipsos. The global survey spanned 15 nations and was conducted between December 17-20 among 13,500 adults.
“[V]accination intent is highest in China, where 80 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement ‘if a vaccine for COVID-19 [coronavirus] were available, I would get it,'” the World Economic Forum reported.
Chinese health officials recently acknowledged that public confidence in state-made vaccines remains low.
“Openness and transparency are the only sure way of countering vaccine hesitancy,” a team of public health experts from the University of Hong Kong wrote in a Chinese national CDC weekly bulletin published last week.
“Full and systematic disclosure of data from clinical trials and post-roll-out empirical studies is needed,” they recommended.
Chinese state-run pharmaceutical companies have caused several health scandals in China in recent years by manufacturing and selling expired or ineffective vaccines.
Chinese authorities have arrested 70 people involved in at least 20 criminal cases for selling fake coronavirus vaccines in recent weeks as part of a nationwide crackdown. One man arrested, identified as Kong, led a multi-million dollar scam in which he passed saline solution and mineral water as Chinese coronavirus vaccines.
“Kong and his team made a profit of 18m yuan ($2.78m) by putting saline solution or mineral water in syringes and hawking them as Covid [coronavirus] vaccines since August last year,” the BBC reported on February 16, citing details of a court ruling released this week.