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Project Citation: 

Borisova, Ekaterina, and Ivanov, Denis. COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy and Russian Public Support for Anti-Pandemic Measures. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2021-09-22.

Project Description

Summary:  View help for Summary In this study, we use random assignment of vignettes that feature optimistic and pessimistic scenarios with respect to vaccine safety and efficacy on a sample of roughly 1,600 Russians in order to gauge public support for anti-pandemic measures under various scenarios. Negative information on vaccine safety and efficacy reduces support for the anti-pandemic measures among individuals who fear Covid-19 and were initially more supportive of government restrictions. These individuals tend to be old, and therefore vulnerable to Covid-19, and politically active. This loss of support is strongest for economically and psychologically costly measures such as banning of large gatherings and the shuttering of non-essential businesses. Mask-wearing, which involves only minor costs, finds broad acceptance. Importantly, our results stay robust to the inclusion of trust in government. We interpret the reactions in light of adaptation, fatigue over Covid-19 restrictions, and fatalism. The political consequences of non-pharmaceutical measures to deal with a pandemic include loss of public support over time, erosion of trust in government, and political backlash.
Funding Sources:  View help for Funding Sources The article was prepared within the framework of the HSE University Basic Research Program

Scope of Project

Subject Terms:  View help for Subject Terms Covid-19; vaccine; non-pharmaceutical measures; anti-pandemic restrictions; lockdown; anxiety
Geographic Coverage:  View help for Geographic Coverage Russia
Time Period(s):  View help for Time Period(s) 7/23/2020 – 7/30/2020
Collection Date(s):  View help for Collection Date(s) 7/23/2020 – 7/30/2020
Data Type(s):  View help for Data Type(s) survey data


Sampling:  View help for Sampling
The survey was performed by the Levada Center, a private research institute based in Moscow. The survey comprised a nationally representative sample of Russians (N = 1,617) polled in late July 2020. The survey experiment commissioned by the authors was a part of a regular omnibus survey ensuring confidentiality of the respondents. All respondents voluntarily consented to participation in the survey and were able to quit the survey at any moment.

The survey design is based on a probability sampling method. The survey was conducted on a two-base sample consisting of mobile and landline numbers. The sampling of both mobile and landline telephone numbers was carried out by randomly generating telephone numbers. Quotas on completed interviews were imposed to match population distribution across geographical regions of Russia (i.e. seven Federal Districts plus the City of Moscow, with the Southern and North Caucasus Federal Districts were treated as a single entity). Respondents were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group (N = 556) received no treatment. The second group (N = 525) received the positive message, which read as follows: “At this moment, teams of scientists around the globe are conducting research on Covid-19 vaccines to contain further outbreaks of the disease. Initial trials have demonstrated the efficacy and safety of these vaccines. Once additional trials are completed, mass vaccination should be possible within a few months.”  The third group (N = 536) received the negative message reading as follows: “At this moment, teams of scientists around the globe are conducting research on Covid-19 vaccines to contain further outbreaks of the disease. However, there is still insufficient information on the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. It is likely that they only provide protection against Covid-19 for a few months and may cause side-effects in some individuals.”

Next, respondents were asked to rate their level of support for the anti-pandemic measures. The questions were worded as follows: To what extent do you support wearing masks in public places / banning mass gatherings / shutting down non-essential businesses to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) if the number of infected people increased over the next few months?”  The answer options were “Definitely yes”, “Rather yes”, “Rather no”, and “Definitely no.”

Before the treatment, respondents were asked to assess their fears of contracting Covid-19. The question was worded as follows: Are you afraid of contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19)?” The same answer options as in the questions on support for the anti-pandemic measures were available. 

In addition, respondents provided their key demographic characteristics such as gender, age, educational attainment, occupation, self-assessment of material well-being, as well as working status during the lockdown period (remote work, reduced working hours, etc.). We also collect information on where the respondent resides.

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