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Homeland Security

Pandemic Handling Gets Mixed Reviews Across US, Europe

By Henry Ridgwell February 08, 2021

Public opinion is mixed on how well Western governments have handled the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, which also questioned people on their attitudes regarding compulsory vaccinations.

Seventy-seven percent of Germans thought their government did a good job in handling the outbreak, while 58% of Americans say the U.S. government is doing a bad job.

More than 4,000 adults were questioned in the United States, Britain, France and Germany.

The survey was conducted in November and December 2020, before U.S. President Joe Biden took office in mid-January and just as vaccination programs were beginning to roll out in the United States and Britain.

The European Union has been far slower in getting its vaccination programs under way, leading to some criticism of the bloc's vaccine approval and procurement policy among EU citizens.

France and other EU states have argued the process must not be rushed, fearing a loss of public trust. France has one of the highest levels of so-called "vaccine skepticism" in the world.

A recent newspaper poll suggested that just over 40% of the adult population intend to get the coronavirus vaccine. French President Emmanuel Macron recently rejected calls for mandatory vaccines.

The Pew survey questioned respondents on their attitudes to compulsory vaccinations.

"In three of the countries where we asked that question, most people do not find that an acceptable idea," report co-author Kat Devlin told VOA. "So, for instance, 75% in France do not like the idea of a government-mandated vaccine. The U.K. was the one country where we found more acceptance of the idea of a government-mandated vaccine — 62% find that an acceptable proposition."

The vaccination program is accelerating in Britain, with over 12 million people having now received their first dose. Britain has also suffered the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe.

Analysts say local elections scheduled for May will offer another measure of public approval for the British government's handling of the pandemic.

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