The number of Britons willing to take the coronavirus vaccine when offered has leapt 20% in two months, making the UK the most pro-vax nation in the world.
Data published by YouGov revealed that on 10 November 61% of those surveyed in a nationwide poll said they would be willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. By 19 January this figure had soared to 81%.
Pro-vaccination sentiment is rising across Europe, the YouGov survey revealed, with Sweden and France - both of which previously had high rates of reluctance to take a vaccine - showing increases in willingness.
The biggest increase has been in Sweden. In mid-November only 45% of Swedes said they would be willing to take the vaccine but that figure has since increased to 66% who would take the vaccine (or had already done so) by mid-January.
Last week, YouGov’s COVID-19 tracker showed that people in Thailand were the most likely to say that they would take the coronavirus vaccine, at 83%, however this had dropped to 77% on Monday, the last date tracking took place, putting the UK at the top of the chart.
In the US, where YouGov has been tracking attitudes since July, currently 51% of Americans have either received their vaccine or are happy to do so – the highest level so far. Prior to this, figures had been between 36% and 50%.
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Answering an urgent question in the Commons, the health secretary said more than 5m doses had been given in total, also counting more than 400,000 second injections.
“This virus is a lethal threat to us all and, as we respond through this huge endeavour, let’s all take comfort in the fact we’re giving 200 vaccinations every minute,” the health secretary said.
The government has committed to giving 13 million people in the UK the vaccine by the end of February.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has dismissed anti-vaxxers as having “very weird views” and said it is not worth trying to convince them that the vaccine is safe.
During a meeting of the Commons Science and Technology and Health and Social Care committees in December, Prof Whitty said: “There is a very small group of people who have got very weird views about vaccines.
“In a sense, they're not worth worrying about in public communication terms, because nothing will persuade them that this is the right thing to do, and that's their right as competent adults to make those choices.”
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