Survey finds global mistrust could weigh on coronavirus vaccine rollout

Survey finds global mistrust could weigh on coronavirus vaccine rollout
Only a total of 33 percent American are happy to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Above, a vaccination queue in Las Vegas, Nevada on Jan. 12, 2021. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 13 January 2021

Survey finds global mistrust could weigh on coronavirus vaccine rollout

Survey finds global mistrust could weigh on coronavirus vaccine rollout
  • Only a third of people are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine
  • In the US, it found a total of 59 percent of people were willing to get vaccinated within a year

Waning trust in governments and all types of media is threatening to limit the rollout of coronavirus vaccines around the world, particularly in the United States, according to a survey conducted by communications firm Edelman.
In an annual assessment on the state of trust in institutions, the firm found that this “infodemic” is breeding mistrust that could make longer the path out from the pandemic.
“This is the era of information bankruptcy,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman.
He said last week’s storming of the Capitol building in Washington and the fact that only a third of people are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine straight away “crystallize the dangers of misinformation.”
The firm found skepticism over vaccines remains a major hurdle for their successful rollout. Across the 28 countries assessed, it found that as of November only a little below two-thirds of respondents said they would be willing to take the vaccine within a year.
That hesitancy was most prevalent in Russia, with just 15 percent of people surveyed willing to get vaccinated as soon as possible and only a further 25 percent comfortable with the idea of doing so within a year. In the US, it found a total of 59 percent of people were willing to get vaccinated within a year with just 33 percent happy to do so as soon as possible. The highest levels of trust were recorded in India, with 51 percent looking forward to taking up the vaccine opportunity immediately and a further 29 percent within a year, for a total of 80 percent.
Governments and health practitioners around the world will be hoping that skeptics will be won over by a smooth rollout of the vaccines. Britain became last month the first country to approve for use the vaccine created by American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German company BioNTech. Other countries have started using it too while other vaccines have also been authorized.
Despite the seeming hesitancy over vaccines, Edelman found that businesses have emerged as the most trusted institution partly because of the speed at which they “proactively” developed vaccines in record time. Also boosting trust has been their ability to find ways to work during the coronavirus restrictions. Business is trusted by some 61 percent of respondents, replacing the government in top spot, which fell from its mid-year top spot and is currently at 53 percent.
“The events of this past year reinforced business’ responsibility to lead on societal issues such as upskilling workers and racial justice,” said Edelman.
The firm found that trust in governments has fallen sharply since the middle of 2020 when people rallied around their politicians in the early months of the pandemic. Since then, trust has fallen sharply, particularly in the US and China.
The online survey of over 33,000 people was conducted between Oct. 19 to Nov. 18. It is usually released to coincide with the gathering of elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the World Economic Forum. This year’s gathering has been canceled because of the pandemic but the organizers are hosting online discussions Jan. 25-29.


Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
A view of Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, with a rocket underneath the wing of a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, during test launch of its high-altitude launch system for satellites from Mojave, California, U.S. January 17, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 January 2021

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
  • The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats

LOS ANGELES: Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reached space on Sunday, eight months after the first demonstration flight of its air-launched rocket system failed, the company said.
A 70-foot-long (21.34-meter-long) LauncherOne rocket was released from beneath the wing of a Boeing 747 carrier aircraft off the coast of Southern California, ignited moments later and soared toward space.
The two-stage rocket carried a cluster of very small satellites known as CubeSats developed and built as part of a NASA educational program involving US universities.
The launch occurred after the Boeing 747-400 took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles and flew out over the Pacific Ocean to a drop point beyond the Channel Islands.
“According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!” Virgin Orbit tweeted later. “Everyone on the team who is not in mission control right now is going absolutely bonkers.”
The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats.
The flight developments were announced on social media. The launch was not publicly livestreamed.
Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, California, is part of a wave of companies targeting the launch market for increasingly capable small satellites, which may range in sizes comparable to a toaster on up to a home refrigerator.
Competitor Rocket Lab, also headquartered in Long Beach, has deployed 96 payloads in 17 launches of its Electron rocket from a site in New Zealand. Another of its rockets was nearing launch Sunday.
Virgin Orbit touts the flexibility of its capability to begin its missions by using airports around the globe.
Virgin Orbit attempted its first demonstration launch in May 2020.
The rocket was released and ignited but only briefly flew under power before it stopped thrusting. The lost payload was only a test satellite.
The company later said an investigation determined there was a breach in a high-pressure line carrying cryogenic liquid oxygen to the first-stage combustion chamber.
Virgin Orbit is separate from Virgin Galactic, the company founded by Branson to carry passengers on suborbital hops in which they will experience the sensations and sights of spaceflight.
Virgin Galactic expects to begin commercial operations this year in southern New Mexico.