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A study funded by SCRIPTS shows that a majority of Germans support global vaccine sharing to end the COVID-19 pandemic

Researchers show that a majority of Germans support more solidarity with poorer countries in the COVID-19 pandemic. In a survey conducted as part of the project "Politics of Public Allocation of Scarce Goods: Evidence from the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, around 10,000 citizens across Germany were asked for their opinion on financial support and vaccine donations to increase vaccination rates worldwide. The study was released as a non-peer-reviewed preprint here.

News from Jan 27, 2022

What drives public support for global vaccine sharing in the COVID-19 pandemic?

As of early 2022 an estimated 50% of the global population is fully vaccinated for COVID-19 but the global distribution of vaccines is extremely unequal, over 85% vaccinated in the top 10 countries and below 3% in the bottom 10. In countries with low vaccination rates, the likelihood of mutations, long-term health consequences and economic damage increases. This calls for a global redistribution of financial resources and vaccination doses. To contribute larger amounts of money or sharing vaccines with poorer countries, governments of richer, democratic countries need to secure public support. It is therefore key to understand the levels and drivers of public support for global vaccine sharing. Furthermore, it is necessary to identify ways through which governments can increase solidarity with other countries in need. Otherwise, there is the risk not only of a humanitarian disaster, but also of material consequences for richer countries with higher vaccination rates.

Survey Design

A research team led by Dr. Ferdinand Geißler (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) launched an online survey with 10,525 respondents online survey respondents in Germany. The data for this study stems primarily from wave 4 of the overall project which was administered to respondents between 8 and 22 September 2021. Next to Dr. Ferdinand Geißler, Principal Investigators Prof. Macartan Humphreys (WZB Berlin Social Science Center/Columbia University), Prof. Heike Klüver (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Prof. Johannes Giesecke (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Felix Hartmann (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) contributed to this study. The aim of the study is to understand how high public support for international vaccine solidarity actually is, and what drives it.

Survey questions focussed on three motivations for global vaccine sharing:

  • Intrinsic motivations (concerns for the well-being of global populations)
  • Material motivations (economic and health benefits of the donor country)
  • Strategic motivations (specific costs and benefits for the donor country and the design of multilateral agreements)

In an additional experiment, which was implemented in wave 2 of the overall project, respondents were given a small financial amount.  They were then asked to

  • either keep or donate parts or the whole amount for a global vaccination programme
  • indicate how much Germany should contribute to global vaccine sharing, both in EUR and in vaccine doses.

Respondents were also exposed to an informational video and text about the global vaccination programme.

Results

"Vaccine nationalism, though evident in policy, is a minority position."

The study authors show that respondents are supportive of substantive funding amounts, on the order of the most generous contributions provided to date. One third of respondents would support 5 billion or more in financial support. However, the supported funding amounts are still below amounts that are likely needed for a successful global campaign. In terms of political orientation, SPD and Green voters showed the highest approval, AfD and non-voters the lowest. Overall, the willingness to show solidarity is surprisingly high, according to the authors.

Exposure to an informational video and text increased the readiness to donate amidst the respondents.

"The COVID-19 vaccination (...) provides a unique opportunity to study popular preferences for international solidarity."

Public preferences appear largely to be driven by intrinsic concern for the welfare of global populations. Preferences are in part explained by material considerations, particularly risks of continued health threats from a failure to vaccinate globally. Strategic considerations are of more limited importance in shaping public opinion. In particular, the results give no evidence for free riding on contributions by other states.

Finally, the authors show that there is scope to use information campaigns highlighting international health externalities to augment public support for global campaigns. Respondents in the treatment group of the information experiment that were exposed to an informative video were significantly more likely to show solidarity.

A domestic mandate to act

Based on the study results, the authors of the study call for action. On the occasion of Germany's G7 presidency, German politicians should act more decisively: "The majority of Germans are in favour of global vaccine sharing," says co-author Macartan Humphreys on behalf of the research team. "Germany should now take this as a strong, domestic mandate to act."

Publication

Geissler, F., Hartmann, F., Humphreys, M., Klüver, H., Giesecke, J., 2022. Public support for global vaccine sharing in the COVID-19 pandemic: Intrinsic, material, and strategic drivers. doi:10.31219/osf.io/k4r7j

Contact

Elisabeth Nöfer
Press & Public Relations Officer
public-relations@scripts-berlin.eu
+49 (0)30 25491 324 
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