United Kingdom

Half of anti-vaxxers are now jabbed, study shows

Half of all anti-vaxxers in the UK are now jabbed and vaccine confidence is surging among ethnic minorities, a study has found.

Some 52 per cent of people who said they would not get a jab when asked in November and December 2020 have now done so.

And 84 per cent of people who said they were 'not very' or 'not at all likely' to accept a vaccine when asked last year have since been vaccinated, research by King's College London and the University of Bristol found.

This indicates many people's hesitancy has waned since the vaccine rollout began six months ago, the researchers say.

Vaccine confidence has doubled in ethnic minorities, from 36 per cent saying they were certain or very likely to get jabbed in November/December to 72 per cent now saying they are this likely to do so or have already had a jab.

And it has tripled in Muslims over the same period, from 23 per cent to 67 per cent. 

Half of all anti-vaxxers in the UK have gone on to change their minds and get the jab, a study has found (file image)

Researchers surveyed 4,896 UK adults aged 18 to 75 between April 1 and 16 this year, and tracked 1,879 people surveyed last year to see if and why their views had changed.

They found that, overall, the public are more likely to say they will get a Covid vaccine than they were last year.

Many who were previously sceptical now say they are very likely to or definitely will accept an offered vaccine, the research found.

Of those who said in November/December 2020 that they 'definitely would not get a vaccine', one in seven - or 15 per cent - say they are now certain or very likely to do so.

This is also the case for 45 per cent of those who said they were 'not at all likely' to get vaccinated. 

The research found that more people have encountered messages encouraging them not to get vaccinated - 43 per cent up from 35 per cent in November/December.

Overall, 94 per cent of those surveyed who had been offered a vaccine have taken it up.

Dr Siobhan McAndrew - senior lecturer in quantitative social science at the University of Bristol - said: 'The high rates accepting the invitation to take up a vaccine are extremely encouraging.

'Convergence over time in vaccine confidence among members of different ethnic and religious groups provides evidence of a strong pro-vaccine norm.

'There is an apparently large difference in intention to get vaccinated between religious groups, with Muslims in particular standing out - but when we control for characteristics associated with religion, such as ethnicity, immigration status, social class and age, these differences are much reduced, suggesting that it's not religious belief in itself that's the driver.

'Nevertheless, the connections that the religiously-active have with religious peers, faith community leaders and with the NHS's diverse workforce serve as a valuable communications resource.

In a move likely to enrage MPs, business leaders and hospitality chiefs, Boris Johnson is preparing to postpone the final stage of his Covid roadmap – which was due on June 21 – by four weeks

'Tailored messaging via these channels will address specific community needs, reassure the cautious, and support vaccine confidence.'

NHS England director of health inequalities Dr Bola Owolabi said: 'This latest study backs up data we have consistently seen since we launched the NHS action plan to tackle vaccine hesitancy several months ago, with uptake among ethnic minorities more than tripling between February and April and confidence in the vaccine growing by more than a fifth among all adults under 45.

'As the NHS vaccination programme opens up to the last remaining age groups, NHS teams across the country continue to make the vaccine easily accessible for all by jabbing at the more than 1,600 sites around the country, including sports stadiums, museums, places of worship, buses and pop-up clinics, as well as at local GPs and pharmacies, to ensure it is easily accessible for all.'

Despite the positive vaccine news, Boris Johnson is preparing to postpone the final stage of his Covid roadmap – which was due on June 21 – by four weeks.

The setback has been prompted by a sharp rise in cases of the Indian variant, and the British Medical Association calling for a delay to allow more people to receive their second jabs.  

Cabinet sources last night conceded that Freedom Day on June 21 was 'not looking great', with a four-week extension to Covid restrictions now 'most likely'.

But in a bid to appease Tory MPs and ministers – including Chancellor Rishi Sunak – who are keen to unleash the economy, the Prime Minister is expected to promise a review after a fortnight. 

This could allow curbs to be ditched earlier if hospital admissions remain low.  

Under the PM's Covid roadmap, June 21 was supposed to be the day when all social distancing curbs were lifted and the work-from-home advice abandoned. Mr Johnson will make a final decision tomorrow night, before making an announcement to the nation on Monday evening.

But officials told the Mail last night that the debate in Downing Street was now concentrated on whether to 'pause' the reopening by two weeks or four.

In a significant intervention, the British Medical Association called on Mr Johnson to hold off until more people had received both doses of the vaccine.

Its council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the figures showed more time was needed to get the vaccine to more people.

Speaking at the start of the G7 summit in Cornwall, Boris Johnson told his fellow world leaders that mistakes had 'doubtless' been made over the last 18 months during the course of the 'wretched' coronavirus pandemic

England's coronavirus R rate is higher than at any time since October at a minimum of 1.2 and possible high of 1.4, SAGE estimated today

Public Health England data show how it took just a matter of weeks for the Indian 'Delta' variant to smash past the Kent strain and take over as dominant in England, with it surging to make up 96 per cent of cases in just nine weeks

'With only 54.2 per cent of the adult population currently fully vaccinated and many younger people not yet eligible, there is a huge risk that prematurely relaxing all restrictions will undo the excellent work of the vaccine programme and lead to a surge of infections,' he said.

Weddings could still get an exemption, with the 30-person cap on guests lifted on June 21 to allow the big weddings that many couples have booked to go ahead.

However, the delay to lifting the remainder of the curbs – which ban nightclubs opening, limit crowds at theatres and sporting events, restrict capacity indoors at pubs and restaurants and prevent people meeting in large groups – is likely to enrage many MPs, hospitality leaders and business chiefs.

The Mail revealed this week that Mr Sunak had told Mr Johnson he could live with a delay of 'a week or two' but would resist any further slippage as this could involve extending the furlough scheme.

On Friday, nightclubs and bars threatened to sue the Government if the planned lifting of restrictions was postponed.  

The Office for National Statistics' weekly infection survey suggested England's outbreak grew by only 13 per cent last week to 96,800 total cases - compared to a near-doubling 75 per cent surge the week before

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the UK must be 'really careful' so not to 'squander' gains made with vaccines. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to delay the end of lockdown planned for June 21

The R rate is highest in the North West, where it could be as high as 1.5. The region is the Indian variant hotspot and cases there have exploded in the past fortnight. A quarter of all the 7,400 cases announced in the UK yesterday were in the North West

Andrew Lloyd Webber has already warned that he could take ministers to court if they do not allow theatres to operate at full capacity as planned.

And yesterday furious Tory MPs warned they will use every mechanism at their disposal to resist the delay of Freedom Day.

Julian Sturdy, the Conservative MP for York Outer, said: 'Despite what lockdown supporters claim, it is simply not just a few extra weeks. People's livelihoods, mental health and our long-term freedoms are at permanent risk.'

The move towards delaying June 21 came after the number of cases of the Indian variant – also known as the Delta variant – increased by 240 per cent in a week. 

Public Health England said the infections had risen from 12,431 to 42,323 in the latest seven-day period, an increase of 29,892 cases. The majority of cases appeared to be among the unvaccinated. The R-rate of reproduction also increased yesterday to between 1.2 and 1.4.

In a further sign that a delay is likely, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi yesterday stressed the importance of being 'really careful' in lifting coronavirus restrictions and urged against 'squander(ing) those hard-fought gains' made by the vaccination programme.

At the G7 summit in Cornwall yesterday, Mr Johnson told fellow world leaders that it was important not to 'repeat some of the errors that we doubtless made in the course of the last 18 months'. The PM has been criticised for not locking down sooner last year.

Kate Nicholls, the boss of UK Hospitality, said: 'Any delay in the roadmap would have a devastating effect on an already fragile hospitality sector.

'A one-month delay would cost the sector £3billion in sales and push many businesses even closer to the cliff edge of failure, meaning more job losses.' 

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