Public support for prioritising Covid fight falls: survey

Paris (AFP) –


Nearly two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, growing numbers of people in several Western countries value protecting the economy over fighting the virus, even if it leads to more Covid deaths, a poll showed Monday.

The survey of 6,000 people living in the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and Japan showed the tide turning against Covid-related restrictions, Kekst CNC consultancy said.

"In every country, the proportion of those wanting their governments to prioritize limiting the spread of coronavirus over protecting the economy has decreased," the report said, adding that mass support for lockdowns "appears to be at an end".

The latest Kekst CNC Covid tracker poll was carried out between September 28 and October 5.

Germany and Britain were among the countries where citizens' priorities had changed the most since the last tracker conducted in May.

Forty percent of Germans said the government's priority should be to limit the spread of the virus, down from 49 percent five months ago.

Thirty-nine percent emphasized the need to protect the economy, up nine percentage points.

The shift was even more marked in Britain, where 42 percent want to prioritise the pandemic over the economy, a drop of 19 percentage points from May.

The report also showed large majorities in all six countries rejecting the reimposition of most types of restrictions, even if hospitals struggle to cope with Covid cases this winter.

France was the country with the lowest level of support for the fight against Covid-19, with 36 percent saying it should be the top priority, while the same proportion said the economy should come first.

- Vaccine divisions -

The report warned that the mood of national unity that prevailed in most countries at the start of the pandemic, when people gathered on their balconies at night to applaud health workers, had petered out.

"The 'all in it together' mood has degraded into an 'out for ourselves' society, with stark divisions opening up between the vaccinated and unvaccinated," Kekst CNC warned.

The divisions appeared starkest in the US, where 58 percent of those polled said that they could actively avoid travel to parts of the country with low vaccine uptake.

A majority of Americans also said they would work from home to avoid coming into contact with an unvaccinated colleague.

The survey also showed the US overtaking France as the country with the greatest level of vaccine resistance.

Seventy-nine percent of Americans said they had already taken or would receive the vaccine, compared with 91 percent in Britain, 88 percent in Germany and 84 percent in France.