Forty-five per cent of Bulgarians say that they do not intend being vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the results of a poll by Alpha Research, released on December 22.
Just 15 per cent of the Bulgarians polled said that they wanted to be vaccinated as soon as possible, while 40 per cent said that they first wanted to wait and see if the vaccines had negative effects.
The Alpha Research poll was done between December 11 and 18 among 1037 adult citizens, through direct interviews in their homes.
Alpha Research said that if the 40 per cent could be convinced, they, along with the 15 per cent staunch supporters of vaccination, would make it possible for the vaccinations to reach about 55 to 60 per cent of the population.
“This threshold, according to experts, would be key to overcoming the pandemic,” the polling agency said.
It said that while there were heated discussions on social networks about the pros and cons of wearing protective masks, in Bulgarian society the consensus on this issue was very high, with 77 per cent in favour.
“Conspiracy theories may be appealing as a way of interpreting the world, but when it comes to personal health, common sense definitely comes to the fore,” Alpha Research said.
Only 12 per cent of those polled believe that the mask serves no purpose other than to control people. This thesis is most strongly supported among the younger of those polled, who are generally the most critical of the anti-epidemic measures, Bulgaria’s institutions and sceptical about the strength of the pandemic.
Conversely, those most at risk – older people and residents of large cities – more than anyone else see masks as a necessity to reduce Covid-19 morbidity.
Alpha Research said that Bulgarians were polarised about whether the Covid-19 pandemic arose naturally or was artificially created.
The poll found that 43 per cent of Bulgarians believe that the pandemic arose naturally, like many others before it – and 43 per cent believe that it was artificially created.
Among those who believe that it was artificially created, suspicions are directed at large economic corporations in order to extract large profits (25 per cent) and to a lesser extent – at “geopolitical interests” and the desire to control the population (18 per cent).
Conspiracy theories are most strongly backed by younger people. Residents of Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia and those with higher incomes support the view that the pandemic was of natural origin.
Nearly two-thirds of Bulgarians polled claimed that so far neither they nor their family members had shown symptoms of the infection.
Based on people’s self-assessment of morbidity in their families, a total of 13 per cent or about 670 000 people (mostly 31-50-year-old residents of large cities) had had new coronavirus.
“This is three times higher than the cases officially confirmed by PCR test, which as a general picture is indicative of the challenges facing the control of the spread of the virus in the country,” Alpha Research said.
Hardly surprisingly, those who took a negative view of the year 2020 were in the majority, with 51 per cent negative assessments, more than three and a half times higher compared with 2019, and – in the past two decades – comparable only with assessments at the time of the 2009/2011 global financial crisis.
The agency said that this arose not only from the various aspects and effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also assessments of the way that Bulgaria, and individual households, had coped with it.
“As a rule, in a crisis, the worst effects are on the most vulnerable. The current situation is no exception – people with lower incomes and the unemployed are particularly dissatisfied with 2020.”
Alpha Research said that also interesting was the change among business people.
“The severity of the economic consequences of Covid-19 that they bear, the closure of businesses and the uncertainty surrounding the resumption of operations, greatly changes the optics of their assessments.”
The big challenge was whether this pessimism would revise their intentions for business next year, which would have even more negative consequences, the agency said.
In spite of the trials of 2020, “and perhaps because of them”, most Bulgarians – 53 per cent – expected next year to be better for them personally. Thirty-one did not expect serious change, whether for better or worse, while 16 per cent were pessimistic about 2021.
Forty-six per cent expected that 2021 would be better for Bulgaria, 34 per cent the same and 20 per cent said that next year would be worse for the country, the Alpha Research poll found.
The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria is supported by the Embassies of Switzerland and Finland.
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