Brits who support Nigel Farage’s new anti-lockdown party are the least likely to take up the offer of a coronavirus vaccine, new research found.
In a sign that political affiliation can be an indicator of vaccine hesitancy, just 54.7 per cent of those planning to vote for Reform UK would get a jab, according to an Oxford University study.
The contrast with the UK’s other political parties is drastic. Supporters of the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are at 94.8 per cent, 91.4 per cent and 92.1 per cent respectively – while 100 per cent of SNP voters gave vaccines the thumbs up.
People who were unsure who they would vote for were less likely to take the vaccine – at 82.6 percent – as were supporters of the Green Party, at 77.4 per cent.
The research pointed to strong relationships between political attitudes and your willingness to get a vaccine – with whether you voted Leave or Remain appearing to relate strongly to vaccine acceptance.
Remain voters were around seven per cent more willing to take the jab compared to those who voted Leave or did not vote in the EU referendum in 2016.
The study was conducted on a sample of 1,600 UK adults – excluding Northern Ireland – with more than 1,200 respondents in a two-wave survey in October and February.
Overall it fun that three-quarters of those surveyed said they were “very likely” to have the vaccine – up from 50 per cent among the same group five months ago.
Ben Ansell, professor of comparative democratic institutions at the Department of Politics and International Relations, said: “This multi-wave study gives us a rare glimpse of whose opinions have shifted and why.
“People have become massively more supportive of taking the vaccine overall but important gaps remain especially among groups whose trust in politicians is typically lower: non-voters, younger citizens, and poorer households.
“When so much of the UK government’s lockdown exit strategy rests on successful vaccine rollout, these insights will be of immediate importance to policymakers in both their internal deliberation on policy and their outward facing communication with the public.”
The study comes as US presidential medical adviser Anthony Fauci warned that anti-tax sentiment in the UK and US is a “self-amplifying problem that just keeps getting bigger and bigger”.
Dr Fauci, speaking at an online conference hosted by London’s Science Museum on Wednesday evening, said that a significantly widespread reluctance to be inoculated “would be terrible because it would mean we have a lingering of infections which we would never be able to completely suppress”.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told the event figures suggest between 11-15 per cent of people are vaccine-hesitant and it “skews toward the black and Afro-Caribbean community and other BAME communities”.
“We are spending resources and also thinking time to make sure we get this right,” Zahawi added.
Dr Fauci added that the US was “playing a bit of catch-up” with the UK which he said “does very well” in analysing the “rather extensive genomic surveillance of the strains and isolates that are actually circulating.”
He told the conference: “If you get a good handle on that and you’re able to modify your vaccines where appropriate, I believe if we get a good global response with vaccinations we will be able to end this pandemic as we know it.”