Health and Healthcare Systems

How will behaviour change after COVID vaccination? New survey reveals post-pandemic trends

people line up keeping their distance from one another

Three-quarters of people said they'll continue to socially distance, even after having a vaccine. Image: REUTERS/Paul Ratje

Sean Fleming
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • Over 3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered globally.
  • Three-quarters of people said they’d continue to social distance and wear masks post-vaccination, according to a survey.
  • But responses varied by country in terms of when people would feel confident about resuming activities such as flying or going to restaurants.

Around the world, more than 3 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered and some countries have made significant progress toward vaccinating the majority of their populations.

As a growing number of countries start to relax restrictions on travel, socializing, and masks, how will people react?

In early June, the polling company Ipsos, working with the World Economic Forum, surveyed 12,497 adults under the age of 75 in nine countries and asked them about their intentions. The participants were selected on the basis that they assumed they would have been vaccinated by the time restrictions were lifted in their home country.

Sticking to preventative measures

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At least three-quarters of respondents said they would continue with the practices of social distancing and wearing masks.

a chart showing people's intention to socially distance after getting a vaccine
People are still eager to practice social distancing, even after a vaccine. Image: World Economic Forum-Ipsos

In Mexico, 86% of people will continue adhering to social distancing measures.

Similarly, 85% of Mexicans polled by Ipsos said they will continue to wear a mask in public. Not far behind are Brazil (83%), Japan and Italy (both at 79%), and the UK (78%).

Ready to mingle?

Responses varied more widely when it came to public activities, however.

Japan was the least keen (at 38%) to return to sports events or concerts, while the US registered the smallest percentage of people (48%) willing to get back on public transport.

Conversely, these were the most positive responses:

  • 82% of Italians are ready to go back to eating in restaurants
  • 67% of Mexicans will use public transport
  • 62% of people in Mexico are also ready to start attending sports events or concerts again
a chart showing people's eagerness to do certain activities again in different countries
Overall, people are most confident to eat in restaurants again. Image: World Economic Forum-Ipsos

Vaccine hesitancy and inequities

The number of people being vaccinated continues to rise. According to figures compiled by Our World in Data, almost one-quarter of the global population has received at least one dose. An estimated 34 million doses are administered each day, adding up to a running total of over 3 billion. Yet, just 1% of people in low-income countries have received at least one vaccine dose.

a chart showing the number of covid vaccine administered globally
Over 3 billion doses of vaccine have been administered worldwide, but only 1% of people in low-income countries have had a jab. Image: Our World in Data

Vaccine hesitancy continues to be a problem in some parts of the world. In the US, some states have resorted to giveaways and incentives to encourage people to get their COVID jab. The BBC has even sought to debunk a series of viral videos that have falsely claimed the vaccines are making people magnetic.

Taking to the air

Perhaps unsurprisingly, once flying becomes a more realistic proposition, many people will still have reservations. Vaccine take-up numbers are at the heart of some of their concerns.

The country with the highest degree of optimism toward flying is, once again, Mexico. But across all nine countries surveyed by Ipsos, there is a marked reluctance to fly into countries where there is no vaccine available.

a chart showing peoples willingness to fly after the vaccines
Most people feel more confident flying domestically than aborad. Image: World Economic Forum-Ipsos
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