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Vaccination, life expectancy, and trust: Patterns of COVID-19 and measles vaccination rates around the world

Rughinis, Cosima and Vulpe, Simona Nicoleta and Flaherty, Michael G. and Vasile, Sorina (2022): Vaccination, life expectancy, and trust: Patterns of COVID-19 and measles vaccination rates around the world.

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We estimate patterns of covariation between COVID-19 and measles vaccination rates and a set of widely used indicators of human, social, and economic capital across 146 countries. About 70% of the variability in COVID-19 vaccination rates in February 2022, worldwide, can be explained by differences in the Human Development Index (HDI) and, specifically, in life expectancy at birth. Trust in doctors and nurses adds predictive value beyond the HDI, clarifying controversial discrepancies between vaccination rates in countries with similar levels of human development and vaccine availability. Cardiovascular disease deaths, an indicator of general health system effectiveness, and infant measles immunization coverage, an indicator of country-level immunization effectiveness, are also significant, though weaker, predictors of COVID-19 vaccination success. The metrics of economic inequality, perceived corruption, poverty, and inputs into the health system have strong bivariate correlations with COVID-19 vaccination but no longer remain statistically significant when controlling for the HDI. Measles vaccination in 2019 is similarly predicted by HDI, trust in doctors and nurses. National poverty rates seem to be a relevant predictor for both types of vaccination, though statistical significance is oscillating. The remaining variability in COVID-19 vaccination success that cannot be pinned down through these sets of metrics points to a considerable scope for collective and individual agency in a time of crisis. The mobilization and coordination in the vaccination campaigns of citizens, medical professionals, scientists, journalists, and politicians, among others, account for at least some of this variability in overcoming vaccine hesitancy and inequity.

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