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The Economist Explains Why People Reject Vaccines

Throughout the United States, covid-19 is spreading rapidly, mostly owing to the highly contagious Delta variant. This fourth wave of infections is strongest in the heartland and southern states: cases per 100,000 people are highest in Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana; Missouri has the highest hospitalisations.

Identifying the causes of vaccine hesitancy can help policymakers decide where to target their efforts. According to surveys and modelling by The Economist, the single greatest predictor of whether an American has been vaccinated is whether they voted for Joe Biden or Donald Trump last November.

In many middle-income countries around the world, from Brazil to Belarus, the pandemic is stirring unrest. People are angry about economic hardships, and they see how the rich and well-connected go to the front of the queue for vaccinations, medical treatment and government help. They are angry that their leaders have not done a better job of containing the coronavirus. At the same time, people’s suffering has created a sense of solidarity which is fanning grievances that smouldered long before anyone had heard of covid-19.

In England, it looks like Boris Johnson’s gamble to unlock society will pay off. When Mr Johnson lifted restrictions on July 19th, many observers predicted disaster. More than a week of liberty later, without masks and with clubbing, cases are still falling. Indeed, daily case counts have fallen by roughly half since the rules were relaxed.

Meanwhile our Bagehot columnist observes that, with the return of summer parties, a sense of normality is returning to Westminster. A strange era in British politics could be coming to a close.

Among the many emergency measures introduced by state governments in America during the pandemic, one stood out for the jollity it heralded: a change in the law to allow bars and restaurants to sell cocktails-to-go. The change in states’ alcohol laws looks set to stay.


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