Nature Medicine refuses to publish an answer to an erroneous article

#Naturemedicine rejected a paper showing that it had published an article with erroneous claims. Here is the rejected paper.

The potential acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination is not correlated with public perceptions of government responses

Bernard Seytre, bnscommunication,

In a recent issue of Nature Medicine, Jeffrey V. Lazarus et al. published an article on the results of a global survey of potential public acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine, conducted in 19 countries, in which they state that “respondents reporting higher levels of trust in information from government sources were more likely to accept a vaccine.”[1] However, the results of a global survey on public perceptions of government responses to COVID-19 conducted in the same countries and published by the same team, do not support this statement.[2]

For example, in Brazil, although the potential acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine ranks second (85.36%) among the 19 countries surveyed, the perception of the government responses ranks 18th (36.35%). The US ranks 6th (75.42%) and 9th (50.57%) respectively for potential vaccine acceptance and perception of government responses, with Mexico ranking respectively 5th (76.25%) and 13th (46.48%), and Ecuador 9th (71.93%) and 19th (35.76%) (Figure 1).

Incidentally, the paper from V. Lazarus et al. on vaccine acceptance states that “countries where acceptance exceeded 80% tended to be Asian nations with strong trust in central governments (China, South Korea and Singapore)”. However, Figure 1 of the article reports the acceptance in Singapore to be only 67.94%.

Rather than showing a correlation between the level of trust in their government and the effectiveness and safety of a putative COVID-19 vaccine, the results instead suggest that people largely make up their mind about the vaccine independently of what their government says.

There is, indeed, no obvious correlate for vaccine acceptance. Among the top four countries with the highest ranking for potential acceptance of vaccine (China, Brazil, South Africa, and South Korea, all above 79%), the economic levels, geographical areas, ethnic compositions, and political regimes are very different – as diverse as those in the five lowest ranking countries (below 66%): Sweden, Nigeria, France, Poland, and Russia.

It would be interesting to conduct a comparative study of the drivers of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance as part of the preparedness measures for the arrival of this vaccine.

[1] Lazarus, J.V. et al. Nat Med (2020).

[2] Lazarus JV et al. PLoS ONE 15(10): e0240011.

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