September 10th 2020
UAntwerp’s Big Corona Study also polled attitudes towards masks at school
It remains a minority, but more and more people are saying that they might not get vaccinated if a vaccine becomes available. And more than half of pupils and their parents want to get rid of masks in the classroom. Two striking observations from the nineteenth wave of the Great Corona Study.
Tuesday saw the nineteenth edition of the Big Corona Study. This large questionnaire is an initiative of UAntwerp, supported by UHasselt, KU Leuven and ULB. The Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) provides a financial boost. Around 23,000 Belgians participated in the questionnaire this week.
This was the first questionnaire after the much discussed start of the school year. Therefore, the scientists included some school-related questions in the questionnaire. One of the other important topics was how Belgians feel about getting a vaccine. Topical, now that the race for creating a COVID-19 vaccine is making the headlines every day. Note that the questionnaire took place before AstraZeneca temporarily halted development of its vaccine.
An initial analysis of the massive amount of data provides some interesting observations:
The willingness to get vaccinated is decreasing slightly. ‘The question has been asked several times in the Big Corona Study’, Prof. Thomas Neyens (UHasselt/KU Leuven) explains. ‘At the end of July, 87.6 percent said they would definitely or probably be vaccinated, but that has now dropped to 76.6 percent. The group that will definitely or probably not be vaccinated is now slightly bigger: from 4.8 to 9.5 percent.’
Three out of four respondents said they agreed or rather agreed with the statement that new vaccines come with more risks. Just over half also say they are concerned about the possible serious side effects of vaccines.
Much has been said and written about masks in the classroom. Not entirely surprisingly, people working in education are the greatest advocates of mandatory mask use: just over half say so. The opinions of pupils and their parents paint a different picture: in both groups, about one in three is in favour of mandatory mask use.
‘It prevents interaction’ and ‘it makes concentrating difficult’ are the main arguments against mask use. Strikingly, more than half of the – small group of participating – pupils say that masks are of no use at all. That opinion is not always shared by parents and people working in education.
Participants in the age groups 18–35 and 36–65 are significantly more likely to get tested for COVID-19. Not surprisingly, these are the age groups in which most infections are currently found.
Corona guidelines require mandatory quarantine for people who have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient and for people returning from a red zone. The results of the Big Corona Study show that 131 participants had to spend at least one day in quarantine during the past two weeks: we see that the 70 respondents who came into contact with an infected person seem to be more compliant than the 61 participants who returned from abroad.
The Big Corona Study is organised every two weeks. The next wave is scheduled for Tuesday 22 September between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. (available in four languages).