Mistrust in biomedical research and vaccine hesitancy: the forefront challenge in the battle against COVID-19 in Italy

Lorenzo Palamenghi, Serena Barello, Stefania Boccia, Guendalina Graffigna
European Journal of Epidemiology 2020 August 17
Researchers have been working quickly and collaboratively for the development of vaccines against the COVID-19 virus. The effort of the scientific community in searching a vaccine for COVID-19 may be hampered by a diffused vaccine hesitancy. Two waves of data collection on representative samples of the Italian population (during the "first" and "second" phase of the Italian Covid-19 mitigation strategy) were conducted to understand citizens' perceptions and behaviors about preventive behaviors willingness to vaccine for COVID-19. Our study shows that willingness to COVID-19 vaccine is correlated to trust in research and in vaccines, which decreased between phase 1 and phase 2 of the Italian pandemic. According to the results of our study, the proportion of citizens that seem to be intentioned to get the Covid-19 vaccine is probably too small to effectively stop the spreading of the disease. This requires to foster a climate of respectful mutual trust between science and society, where scientific knowledge is not only preached but also cultivated and sustained thanks to the emphatic understanding of citizens worries, needs of reassurance and health expectations.

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