Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane AFrican News Agency (ANA)
Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane AFrican News Agency (ANA)

South Africans may be good at washing their hands but many are scared of the vaccine needle - research

By Shaun Smillie Time of article published May 8, 2021

Share this article:

As Covid-19 continues its hold on nations around the world, a new international survey has provided a snapshot of the effect the pandemic has had on the world and South Africa.

A Gallup poll surveyed 300 000 adults during the second half of 2020 asking them how the virus had impacted on their lives.

Nearly half the world’s population told the pollsters the virus had affected their lives “a lot”, with a third saying it had had some effect. Only 19% said the Covid-19 virus had not impacted them.

Amazingly less than half a percent of those surveyed said they had never heard of Covid-19.

With a hard lockdown that forced the majority of South Africans to remain indoors for over a month and a half it is not surprising 58% said Covid had affected their lives a lot. South Africa wasn't the highest, that was Kenya at 67%, while the lowest was Laos at 10%.

Globally nearly one in three people said they had lost their jobs during the pandemic. Locally just over half of South Africans said they had had to stop work temporarily, with 58% claiming in the survey they received less money than usual.

First World countries fared better. Only 3% of people from Switzerland said they lost their jobs, while in Germany 6% stopped work temporarily.

The survey also asked how many times people washed their hands or used hand sanitiser. Hand hygiene appears to be on most people’s minds. The majority of adults, 58% in 118 countries, said they washed their hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser five or more times on the previous day.

Just 2% of those surveyed said they had not washed their hands at all the prior day.

It was found women are more likely to wash their hands than men. Also the likelihood of washing hands rises with the education level. Those who live in urbanised areas are also more likely to wash their hands at least five times a day.

The researchers believe some of the differences in the frequency of handwashing in the rural areas may be related to the lack of availability of soap and other disinfectants. They might still be washing their hands but not with soap or sanitisers.

A worrying finding in the survey was that only 68% of adults told Gallup they would agree to be vaccinated if a coronavirus vaccine was available to them at no cost. This would fall short of the estimated 70% to 90% that experts believe needed to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity in populations.

South Africa falls short of the global average with 63% saying they would take the vaccine. This is however better than that of neighbouring Namibia where only 46% said they would.

Gallup is planning future surveys they hope will provide better insight into the effect the pandemic had and is having on the world’s citizens.

Share this article: