Public opinion has made a “significant” shift as to whether Canada should focus on getting COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, a new poll suggests.
On Wednesday, the Angus Reid Institute released new data that suggests for the first time, the leading answer on the topic was in favour of sending doses outside the country’s borders.
Forty-six per cent of respondents said they believe it’s time to concentrate on vaccinating people in less wealthy countries, compared to 39 per cent who said they believed the focus should remain local.
“That represents a significant change in the opinions of Canadians from the summer, when seven-in-ten (72 per cent) opposed sharing vaccines globally until vaccinations here were complete,” the non-profit group said in a release.
The World Health Organization has urged rich countries with large supplies of vaccine to not offer booster shots and instead make those doses available for poorer countries, warning more variants are bound to be detected where vaccination rates are lower.
“Wealthier countries are beginning to administer third and fourth doses, as nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population has yet to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine,” the institute said, “including many in Africa, where Omicron was first identified.”
In October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will donate 10 million doses to the WHO’s vaccine-sharing facility and donate $15 million to help make mRNA vaccines in Africa.
The poll also reported that more Canadians are starting to believe a COVID-19 infection would be “like a case of the flu.”
Asked how serious would contracting the virus be for them personally, 49 per cent said they would have serious but manageable symptoms, while 36 per cent said their infection would be mild.
“These data stand against a backdrop of warnings from many health experts that though Omicron may be causing less severe outcomes than the previous Delta variant, it should not be referred to as mild,” the report said.
About 12 per cent of Canadians worry that if they were infected, they would have to be hospitalized.
For comparison, in both the summer and winter of 2020, nearly three times as many said that contracting COVID-19 would have serious consequences.
Ninety-four per cent of unvaccinated respondents said they believe a COVID-19 infection for them would be mild or manageable.
The online survey was conducted from Jan. 7-12, 2022, randomized sample of 5,002 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. This poll is accurate to within +/- 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
– with a file from Reuters