The WHO is hopeful a vaccine could be ready by year’s end. Americans are skeptical

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
October 10, 2020, 1:00 PM UTC

The World Health Organization says it’s hopeful a vaccine against COVID-19 will be available before the end of the year, but Economist / YouGov data shows Americans aren’t as optimistic. 

About one in five registered voters (19%) think a vaccine will be available by the end of 2020, however a plurality (40%) say it will be after that, but before the summer of 2021. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus voiced the organization’s hope on October 7, however, he did not elaborate. There are nine experimental vaccines in the pipeline of the WHO-led COVAX facility. 

Registered voters poised to vote for Donald Trump in November are roughly six times more likely than Joe Biden supporters to think a vaccine will be ready by year’s end, 38% to 6%. Biden voters are bracing for a longer wait: around half (52%) think a vaccine will be available after the New Year, but before summer 2021. 

Of course, it doesn’t matter when the vaccine becomes available if people won’t take it. In recent weeks, the number of Americans who say they’ll get vaccinated has dropped from almost half in mid-August to 37% this week. Three in 10 (30%) say they won’t get vaccine and a third (33%) are not sure. 

The high number of those who aren’t sure may be a result of a vaccine push that many believe is politically motivated as President Trump has suggested a possibility of an imminent vaccine before the election. 

Most Americans (77%) express concern over the safety of such a fast-tracked vaccine. While concern is high regardless of voting intentions, Biden supporters are more likely than Trump supporters to voice worry (90% of Biden supporters vs. 63% Trump supporters). 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 registered voters interviewed online between October 4–6, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 4.5% for the overall sample.