MUMBAI: Many Indians seem reluctant to get vaccinated for Covid-19 as infections have dropped dramatically since the mid-September peak and some people are concerned about possible side effects, according to a survey of 18,000 people released on Thursday.
India reported 24,037 new infections on Thursday – fewer than 30,000 for the fourth consecutive day – bringing its total to 9.96 million, the second highest in the world. More than 144,000 people died.
Until early last month, India looked set to surpass the U.S. infection count, but the gap between them has widened considerably since then. Cases in the United States have now risen to over 16 million.
The government says it may soon approve some of the vaccines that have required authorization for emergency use, including the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Pfizer / BioNTech shot, which is already in use in the US and Britain.
India wants to launch 28M01S vaccines in a few weeks, initially focusing on people most exposed to the virus and over 50, but a survey by New Delhi consulting firm LocalCircles found that around 69% of respondents did not see the urgent need for vaccination.
“It appears that some of the main reasons for hesitation are limited information on side effects, levels of efficacy and a growing belief in parts of the population that Covid-19 cannot affect them due to their high levels of immunity,” LocalCircles said in a statement.
Many people in the survey, who got responses from nearly a third of India’s districts, said they believe “we are moving towards herd immunity.”
Jiaul Haque, a software engineer from the eastern state of Assam, said he thought he had already developed some sort of immunity to Covid-19 and would wait to see how various vaccines work on other people before signing up for one.
“The vaccine did not pass the regular duration of testing,” the 36-year-old said.
“All the vaccine companies are in a race against each other, so that worries me too.”