The Coronation of Austria: Part 11

All for one and one for…?

No wonder, then, that vaccines against COVID-19 are so eagerly anticipated by policy makers and many others. Not by everyone, however: In May 2020, just under half of our respondents said they would be willing to get vaccinated. By October, this number had decreased (!) to about a third. Looking at who changed their minds, we found that 41% of those who were willing to get vaccinated in May were no longer willing to do so in October, while only 10% had changed their minds in the other direction. We can only speculate about the reasons for this development: People’s view of the risk that COVID-19 poses to their health seems to play a role, but also the decreasing trust in the government’s crisis management. Moreover, as our qualitative partner-study has shown, the absence of long term evidence on side effects of the new vaccines cause even people who are generally supportive of vaccination programmes to hesitate in this case. As one study participant put it, ‘Everybody is waiting for the vaccine, but nobody wants to be vaccinated.’

A nuanced picture of social cohesion

Vaccination programmes are often seen as the paradigmatic case of solidarity. But how do people actually feel about, and experience, solidarity and social cohesion in the country? At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020, 62% felt that social cohesion had increased over the previous week. Since then, this extremely positive assessment has continued to decline with each wave of the survey. Currently, only 14 % perceive a further increase in social cohesion.

A consuming crisis

Our findings suggest that the COVID-19 crisis may change patterns of consumption in the longer term. In October, our qualitative partner study found frequent references to people who said they had lost their ‘appetite’ or ‘gusto’ to shop; that during the crisis they had realised that many things they used to buy they do not really need. Also in our own data from the Austrian Corona Panel Project we found that seven out of ten people wanted to reduce their individual consumption — and this was independent of income losses. Only one in five said that they were willing to support economic recovery through their own individual consumption.

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Barbara Prainsack

Barbara Prainsack

I'm interested in all things bioscience, medicine & society. For more on our solidarity work, see https://barbaraprainsack.wordpress.com/about/