Bokemper, Scott E., Gregory A. Huber, Alan S. Gerber, Erin K. James, and Saad B. Omer (2021). Timing of COVID-19 Vaccine Approval and Endorsement by Public Figures. Vaccine 39(5): 825-829. DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.12.048.
The global spread of COVID-19 has created an urgent need for a safe and effective vaccine. However, in the United States, the politicization of the vaccine approval process, including which public figures are endorsing it, could undermine beliefs about its safety and efficacy and willingness to receive it. Using a pair of randomized survey experiments, we show that announcing approval of a COVID-19 vaccine one week before the presidential election compared to one week after considerably reduces both beliefs about its safety and efficacy and intended uptake. However, endorsement by Dr. Anthony Fauci increases confidence and uptake among all partisan subgroups. Further, an endorsement by Dr. Fauci increased uptake and confidence in safety even if a vaccine receives pre-election approval. The results here suggest that perceptions of political influence in COVID-19 vaccine approval could significantly undermine the viability of a vaccine as a strategy to end the pandemic.
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