Faculty News

Changing Perceptions of Countermeasures to COVID-19

Are people still worried about getting COVID-19? How long will we need to continue social distancing? Will people accept a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available? One researcher at the University of Michigan is answering these questions by identifying perceptions of countermeasures to COVID-19 and how they are changing over time. 

In this episode of Michigan Minds, Abram Wagner, research assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, discusses his ongoing research examining how changes in the epidemiology of COVID-19 affects behaviors.  

Wagner was already researching changes in perceptions to vaccines over time when the coronavirus became a global pandemic, so he adjusted his research to see how communities were responding. 

“When the coronavirus outbreak hit, I shifted the focus to not just look at vaccines in general, but looking at a potential COVID-19 vaccine,” says Wagner. 

In early March, he began conducting research on what people think about COVID-19—their perceptions about becoming infected, their acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine, and whether or not they were socially distancing. The surveys are currently being conducted in the United States and China, but Wagner hopes to extend it to other countries soon as well. 

Wagner says his research shows that most people have a “relatively positive view of the countermeasures,” are generally trying to remain socially distant, and are accepting of a vaccine when one becomes available. He adds that it is likely, however, that those perceptions will start to change in coming months. 

“We are doing repeated surveys over time and our hypothesis is that people become more fatigued about countermeasures—staying at home, being socially distant—and they might even become more hesitant in the future to get a vaccine,” Wagner says. 

Learn more in this episode of the Michigan Minds podcast.

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