Stop Shaming Russell Wilson for Being a Good Stepdad on Baby Future's Birthday

The saga between Ciara, husband Russell Wilson, and her ex-fiancé Future is something of a soap opera — at least that’s the way fans have often reacted to their public comments about each other. Which is fine; side with whichever famous person you like. But we’re not huge fans of what’s going on today, after all three took to social media to celebrate “Baby” Future’s sixth birthday.

People are riled up about Wilson’s post in particular, a super gushy note to his stepson: “You are my daily inspiration. My best friend…Full of Love, Joy, and Grace. I thank Jesus every day for who you are & being able to lead & guide you. Your future is forever endless and I pray you swim into every opportunity and obstacle in life with this much Love and Enthusiasm. Happy 6th Birthday Future! Daddy loves you!”

That’s a bit more effusive than the note Future wrote to his son on Twitter: “Happy Birthday FUTURE. Love u FOREVER twin.”

We highly doubt a 6-year-old is looking to social media for birthday messages from their parents. The little guy is doing just fine, getting extra family time during lockdown with his baby sister, stepdad, and mom Ciara, who’s currently pregnant with another baby boy.

Twitter, on the other hand, is on fire about these posts. Wilson calling himself Baby Future’s “Daddy” is the main issue, reminding us of the way Wilson appeared to have taken over that role quite early in the boy’s life. Future and Ciara split when their son was just a few months old, reportedly because of his cheating. By spring of 2015, she was making public appearances with Wilson, and soon the NFL pro was photographed bonding with Baby Future. Dad Future was none too happy with this.

“If I was a kid, and my mama had a dude pushing me, I would’ve jumped out the stroller and slapped the s— out of him,” the rapper told Power 105. “You never do that in our community. You don’t ever bring a man around your son. How you know this dude for a few months and you bring him around your kid? Who does that? Nobody does that.”

Thus began a back-and-forth between the three that has gone on for years and even involved Ciara suing her ex for slander and libel at one point. Last year, Future said things were cool between him and Wilson.

“I don’t have nothing against him, and I’m happy for them,” he said on his FREEBANDZ RADIO show, per People.

It’s in that context that we’re seeing this current birthday debate bubble up on Twitter. As Future fans question Wilson’s wording.

“You outta pocket,” @TreyDolo_ wrote.

“Russell is so phony and a clout chaser,” @harbor_msv said.  “Like stop trying to take subliminal shots at Baby Future’s dad. He was right about you. And where was this energy for Baby Sienna?”

But a vast majority of people on the platform are applauding Wilson for being such a loving stepfather.

“Anyone who thinks Russell is doing ‘too much’ by loving on Baby Future like he’s his own son seek help, Jesus, and therapy immediately,” Kaiah tweeted.

“Baby Future is super blessed,” Torie wrote. “Didn’t Future say he’s not able to be around all of his kids that much bc of his career? So baby future gets 3 successful parents and parents that are physically there. That’s cool to me.”

We hope that one day, when Baby Future is old enough to read social media, that this last statement is an accepted fact. Like all children, he deserves all the parental love available to him, regardless of what Twitter thinks.

Maybe one day, we’ll add Ciara and Future to this list of famous exes who are actually quite good at co-parenting.






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The cholera outbreak in a Victorian asylum that anticipated the coronavirus crisis in care homes

In 1849, a cholera epidemic that was sweeping through Britain reached West Riding Asylum in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The deadly disease soon spread through the wards. Searching for the source of the outbreak, the consulting physician eventually settled on an individual who had been admitted while ill. The doctor described this unfortunate patient as the “unconscious messenger of death”.

Over a century and a half later, a care-home owner in Devon—alarmed by the fact that local care homes could admit residents with COVID-19—expressed his fears in a strikingly similar way. In early April 2020, the government issued guidelines that permitted taking in new residents even if sick. This, the care-home owner argued, would be “tantamount to importing death”.

Care homes are the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Compared to all other settings, they have seen the biggest relative increase in deaths since the start of the outbreak. Most of the vast asylums of the Victorian era closed in the 20th century, as attitudes to treating mental health changed. Yet there are haunting parallels to be seen. Responses to, and experiences of, an outbreak of disease at one of these asylums back in the 19th century are disturbingly resonant today.

Cholera, an acute diarrhoeal disease, claimed the lives of more than 100 patients at West Riding Asylum in 1849. Such was the scale of the tragedy that the consulting physician, Thomas Giordani Wright, was commissioned by the asylum’s regulators to investigate and account for this disaster. The result, a report published in 1850, allows us to reconstruct the story of the cholera outbreak in minute detail. It is a story which foreshadows our own.

Cholera grips the asylum

The 19th century witnessed a huge expansion in the number of asylums in England.

In 1808, the British government passed legislation that allowed counties to collect and spend taxes on building asylums for those unable to pay for private treatment for mental illness. While most counties didn’t begin construction until they were forced to by further legislation in 1845. Yorkshire was quick off the mark. West Riding Asylum opened its doors in November 1818, initially with a view to accommodating 150 patients. By the middle of the century, extensions and a second building meant that more than 500 patients filled its wards.

Global cholera pandemics were a repeated problem throughout the 19th century. When the disease hit Britain in the autumn of 1848, Yorkshire was initially spared. But by September 1849, it had reached Wakefield. In his report, Wright conjures an image of the institution besieged, with “the spread of the pestilence all around the asylum”.

Some of those who had been attached to the asylum for a long time, like Wright himself, might have taken confidence from the fact it had escaped disaster during the previous cholera pandemic to hit England, in 1832. In 1849, sadly, it would not be so lucky.

In his report, Wright sought to understand how the disease had infiltrated the institution. He was doing so a few years before John Snow’s discovery that cholera was waterborne. Yet an inspection of both the drainage and ventilation did take place at West Riding Asylum; both were given a clean bill of health. Indeed, the inspectors—Messrs West and Dawson—were left to conclude that “the visitation, fatal as it has been to many, must be considered either as the immediate infliction of Divine Providence, or as dependent on causes of which nothing as yet is known”.

Wright looked elsewhere for causes. And in spite of his admission that “the laws of contamination are, in fact, little known”, he set his sights on one Elizabeth Fenton—his “unconscious messenger of death”.

The hunt for ‘patient zero’ begins

Elizabeth Fenton, a person with epilepsy, had been admitted to West Riding Asylum on 17 September 1849. She came from the nearby Gomersal Workhouse, where she had been for the past six years after her husband, a stonemason, abandoned her and their two children. Although her transfer had been recommended some weeks earlier, when the local official called at the workhouse to take her to the asylum, it took people at the workhouse by surprise.

Strokes of ill luck might, in part, explain the disastrous chain of events which followed. Two residents at the Gomersal Workhouse had died of cholera the night before Fenton was transferred; one of them normally slept in the same room as her. Yet authorities may have been lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that Fenton had not had direct contact with these residents before her transfer. She had suffered an unusually violent seizure that week, and so had spent most of her last nights in the workhouse restrained in a chair in another room. And the day before her transfer, she had been given a laxative to help relieve constipation. An early warning sign of cholera infection, diarrhoea, was thus concealed.

By the evening of her first day in the asylum, Fenton had developed symptoms. She was isolated immediately, as it had become clear that an outbreak was underway in Gomersal Workhouse. Her room was locked, and access restricted to a select few. But within a week, four more women had fallen ill. From that point on, the disease spread like wildfire through the female as well as male patient populations of the asylum.

Since the male cases were known not to have had any direct contact with any of the female cases, and the original four women were not even thought to have seen Fenton, Wright was stumped to explain whether the mode of transmission was “gaseous or solid, material or immaterial, vegetable or animal, magnetic or electrical”.

But he was firm in his conclusion that “infection was in some way brought into the asylum by that patient”. He cinched his argument by referring back to the 1832 pandemic, which the asylum had escaped unscathed. The only difference, he argued, between the two contexts was that no new patients from infected districts had been admitted in 1832, whereas in 1849, they had: Fenton. Case closed.

Yet Wright pursued this line of investigation further, with prosecutorial zeal, by turning his attention to Gomersal Workhouse. Fenton had brought the disease from Gomersal to West Riding Asylum—but how, in the first place, had it arrived at Gomersal?

From the medical officer at the workhouse, Wright learned that on 6 September “a dirty Irish woman, and her four children, were brought into the workhouse”. Showing signs of cholera, they had been taken to the workhouse hospital, where the mother had died just hours after arrival. One of her children died “a day or two after”; the exact timing was not thought worth recording. And just a day before Fenton was transferred to the asylum, two other women at the workhouse died.

As we know all too well from COVID-19, Aids and other recent pandemics, the hunt for the first person to fall ill—known as “patient zero”—collides with other vectors of stigmatisation. In the case of COVID-19, this has been clear above all in the horrifying rise in anti-Asian racism and xenophobia worldwide.

By 1849, the arrival in England of hundreds of thousands of Irish displaced by the Great Famine had contributed to wider anti-Irish sentiment, cementing a prejudicial association with poverty, dirt and disease. Forced into desperate living conditions, including dog kennels and cellars, this was an association which drew vicious strength from the staggeringly high death rates among the Irish during times of epidemic disease. As well as being epidemiologically unhelpful, Wright’s explicit identification of a local Irish patient zero fed into growing anti-Irish racism and a representation of the Irish as carriers, rather than fellow sufferers, of the disease.

The human cost rises

With cholera loose in the institution, the medical officers and attendants at West Riding Asylum tried to fight it using the full arsenal at their disposal: removal of patients to a separate cholera ward; improvements in diet—including “extra allowances of tea and brandy for supper”; fumigation of wards; and laundering of all bed sheets and clothes.

But as in the current pandemic, there was no cure, no vaccine. By the end of the year, more than 100 residents had died of cholera. Nineteen had died in just a single day towards the end of October.

In what Wright evidently considered to be a small mercy, the patients “generally did not appear to be much affected by fear, nor were they aware of the extent of the mortality”. But just as in today’s care homes, for the staff of the institution, it was traumatic. “It was a period of awful emergency, and the consternation of all was increased by the fearful mystery of the pestilence, the rapidity of its attack, without previous symptom or warning, and the little more than failure of every effort, to mitigate its course, or avert its progress.”

Amid this horror, it is unsurprising—particularly, unhappily, to us now—that residents were not the only fatalities. On November 4 1849, Mrs Reynolds, the chief nurse of the ward set up to tend to cholera cases, died of the disease.

In a separate report in November 1849, the director of the asylum quoted Reynolds as saying: “If I should die, I shall have the satisfaction on my death bed of knowing that I have done my duty.” Wright later wrote movingly of “her heroic and unremitting devotion to her duties” and “her kindness and humanity”.

Reynolds was not alone in being held up for praise. In 1851, the director of the asylum looked back on the service of all staff in these harrowing months “with gratitude and admiration”. And while noting that “no pecuniary recompense can adequately remunerate such services”, he drew attention to the princely sum of £264 which had been distributed among staff by the visiting justices, and a further—unspecified but “very large”—sum disbursed by a visiting magistrate (there to oversee Wright’s investigation) in a private capacity.

There is a poignant coda to this story, however. In contrast to the “substantial tokens of public approbation” the surviving officers and attendants had received, Wright used his report to draw attention to the sad inadequacy of Reynolds’s final resting place: a grave “without a mark to record her fate”. He pleaded with the magistrates and medical officers to make contributions so that her life and service could also be properly remembered.

Were lessons learnt?

Wright rounded off his report with a “lessons learnt” section—a genre with which we are likely to become all too familiar in the coming months and years.

While noting that changes to diet and fumigation appeared to bear some fruit, the lesson Wright was desperate to hammer home was the importance of “the precaution of not admitting into the asylum fresh patients from infected districts”. In that respect, his advice was much stricter than that issued by the Board of Health, the body charged with the control of epidemic disease, whose confident assurances—he suggested—had influenced people “to disregard all risk of communication”.

Wright concluded: “We have been fatally taught, that it is most important to use every possible vigilance to avert the approach of cholera; for, if it once find an entrance, no human resources are of much avail, to mitigate its intensity or abate its ravages.”

The colossal asylums of the 19th century may no longer be with us, but the parallels haunt us still. The risk to care homes was clear early in the contemporary crisis, according to chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. And the vulnerability of institutionalised populations was not only foreseeable; doctors during the 1849 cholera outbreak tried to pass down lessons to future generations.

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How does the brain link events to form a memory? Study reveals unexpected mental processes

A woman walking down the street hears a bang. Several moments later she discovers her boyfriend, who had been walking ahead of her, has been shot. A month later, the woman checks into the emergency room. The noises made by garbage trucks, she says, are causing panic attacks. Her brain had formed a deep, lasting connection between loud sounds and the devastating sight she witnessed.

This story, relayed by clinical psychiatrist and co-author of a new study Mohsin Ahmed, MD, Ph.D., is a powerful example of the brain’s powerful ability to remember and connect events separated in time. And now, in that new study in mice published today in Neuron, scientists at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute have shed light on how the brain can form such enduring links.

The scientists uncovered a surprising mechanism by which the hippocampus, a brain region critical for memory, builds bridges across time: by firing off bursts of activity that seem random, but in fact make up a complex pattern that, over time, help the brain learn associations. By revealing the underlying circuitry behind associative learning, the findings lay the foundation for a better understanding of anxiety and trauma- and stressor-related disorders, such as panic and post-traumatic stress disorders, in which a seemingly neutral event can elicit a negative response.

“We know that the hippocampus is important in forms of learning that involve linking two events that happen even up to 10 to 30 seconds apart,” said Attila Losonczy, MD, Ph.D., a principal investigator at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and the paper’s co-senior author. “This ability is a key to survival, but the mechanisms behind it have proven elusive. With today’s study in mice, we have mapped the complex calculations the brain undertakes in order to link distinct events that are separated in time.”

The hippocampus—a small, seahorse-shaped region buried deep in the brain—is an important headquarters for learning and memory. Previous experiments in mice showed that disruption to the hippocampus leaves the animals with trouble learning to associate two events separated by tens of seconds.

“The prevailing view has been that cells in the hippocampus keep up a level of persistent activity to associate such events,” said Dr. Ahmed, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and co-first author of today’s study. “Turning these cells off would thus disrupt learning.”

To test this traditional view, the researchers imaged parts of the hippocampus of mice as the animals were exposed to two different stimuli: a neutral sound followed by a small but unpleasant puff of air. A fifteen-second delay separated the two events. The scientists repeated this experiment across several trials. Over time, the mice learned to associate the tone with the soon-to-follow puff of air. Using advanced two-photon microscopy and functional calcium imaging, they recorded the activity of thousands of neurons, a type of brain cell, in the animals’ hippocampus simultaneously over the course of each trial for many days.

“With this approach, we could mimic, albeit in a simpler way, the process our own brains undergo when we learn to connect two events,” said Dr. Losonczy, who is also a professor of neuroscience at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

To make sense of the information they collected, the researchers teamed up with computational neuroscientists who develop powerful mathematical tools to analyze vast amounts of experimental data.

“We expected to see repetitive, continuous neural activity that persisted during the fifteen-second gap, an indication of the hippocampus at work linking the auditory tone and the air puff,” said computational neuroscientist Stefano Fusi, Ph.D., a principal investigator at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute and the paper’s co-senior author. “But when we began to analyze the data, we saw no such activity.”

Instead, the neural activity recorded during the fifteen-second time gap was sparse. Only a small number of neurons fired, and they did so seemingly at random. This sporadic activity looked distinctly different from the continuous activity that the brain displays during other learning and memory tasks, like memorizing a phone number.

“The activity appears to come in fits and bursts at intermittent and random time periods throughout the task,” said James Priestley, a doctoral candidate co-mentored by Drs. Losonczy and Fusi at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute and the paper’s co-first author. “To understand activity, we had to shift the way we analyzed data and use tools designed to make sense of random processes.”

Ultimately, the researchers discovered a pattern in the randomness: a style of mental computing that seems to be a remarkably efficient way that neurons store information. Instead of communicating with each other constantly, the neurons save energy—perhaps by encoding information in the connections between cells, called synapses, rather than through the electrical activity of the cells.

“We were happy to see that the brain doesn’t maintain ongoing activity over all these seconds because, metabolically, that’s not the most efficient way to store information,” said Dr. Fusi, who is also a professor of neuroscience at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “The brain seems to have a more efficient way to build this bridge, which we suspect may involve changing the strength of the synapses.”

In addition to helping to map the circuitry involved in associative learning, these findings also provide a starting point to more deeply explore disorders involving dysfunctions in associative memory, such as panic and pos-ttraumatic stress disorder.

“While our study does not explicitly model the clinical syndromes of either of these disorders, it can be immensely informative,” said Dr. Ahmed, who is also a member of the Losonczy lab at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute. “For example, it can help us to model some aspects of what may be happening in the brain when patients experience a fearful association between two events that would, to someone else, not elicit fright or panic.”

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A new plant-based system for the mass production of allergens for immunotherapy

Allergies can significantly affect health and quality of life. While allergen immunotherapy provides long-lasting therapeutic relief to people suffering from environmental allergies, the therapy can last several years and requires large amounts of allergen. Now, researchers from the University of Tsukuba developed a novel system that enables the mass production of the major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 in plant leaves in just a matter of days. In a new study published in Frontiers in Plant Science, they showed that their system not only produces large amounts of Bet v 1, but the purified protein was also highly reactive towards the IgE antibodies in sera from individuals with birch pollen allergy.

“The idea of allergen immunotherapy is to desensitize the body’s response to the allergen by exposing patients to it in gradually increasing amounts,” says corresponding author of the study Professor Kenji Miura. “Because a significant drawback is the difficult, expensive and low-yield production of allergens, our goal was to develop a new system that allows for the rapid and massive production of allergens that can be used in the clinical setting.”

To achieve their goal, the researchers turned to their previously established “Tsukuba system,” which makes use of a method called agroinfiltration. They first introduced the gene for Bet v 1 into a specific type of bacteria called Agrobacterium tumefaciens and let them grow. They then immersed leaves of the plant Nicotiana benthamiana into the bacterial solution to bring the bacteria into close contact with the plant, so the bacteria could transfer the Bet v 1 gene to plant cells, which in turn started producing the protein. To test the quality of their product, the researchers also produced the protein in Brevibacillus brevis, which is a standard bacterial host for protein production.

“We were able to purify 1.2mg of Bet v 1 protein from 1g leaves in just 5 days,” explains Professor Miura. “This is a relatively large amount that is otherwise difficult to achieve using standard methods. Our next goal was to test whether our protein was immunogenic, which is a prerequisite for immunotherapy.”

The researchers isolated sera from individuals with birch pollen allergy and mixed them with Bet v 1 protein purified from plants and bacteria. In both cases, the researchers were able to show that Bet v 1-specific IgE from the patients’ sera, which is the antibody causing the allergy, was strongly reactive to their proteins.

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Chris Hemsworth Is 'Constantly Trying to Find Balance' as a Working Dad

A work in progress! Chris Hemsworth is still figuring out how to be present for his three children as a successful actor.

“I’ve spent probably 15 years in what felt like a marathon, a constant workload,” the Thor star, 36, told GQ Australia in his May cover story, published Tuesday, May 5. “So much of my energy has been geared towards that, and then having kids at the same time, I’ve been constantly trying to find the balance. I’ve really yearned for more stillness and felt a definite need to slow down. Not having a schedule in front of me [during the coronavirus pandemic] has made me reposition my values and what’s important, and I think most people are having those kinds of thoughts right now.”

The Australian star admitted that it has been “harder and harder” to be away from daughter India, 7, and twin sons Sasha and Tristan, 6, as they’ve gotten older.

“For a little while, you don’t think the kids notice and then you realize they do,” Hemsworth explained to the magazine. “I absolutely want to continue to make films that I’m proud of, but that can also wait. Now what’s more important is my kids are at an age I don’t want to miss. And I’d hate to look back in 20 years and go, ‘Right, let’s get to work as a parent’ and I’ve missed it all.”

In June 2019, the Rush star announced that he was taking an acting break to spend more time with his children and his wife, Elsa Pataky.

“This year, I probably won’t shoot anything,” Hemsworth told Australia’s Daily Telegraph at the time. “I just want to be at home now with my kids. They are at a very important age. They are still young and they are aware when I leave more than before.”

Despite his roles in hit movies, including Avengers: Endgame and The Cabin in the Woods, Hemsworth “couldn’t be less cool” in India, Sasha and Tristan’s eyes.

He explained on Tuesday: “I get a kick out of it when they actually enjoy my movies, but there’s also an equal share of eye-rolls. … It’s nature’s way of telling me the truth. You can fall into a false sense of self-importance on a film set, where you feel you’re special, so it’s good to remind yourself that it’s not the case. And kids certainly drive that home.”

Hemsworth and Pataky, 43, tied the knot in December 2010.

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A big problem later: A majority of antivaxxers plan to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine, study suggests

The availability of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will likely play a key role in determining when Americans can return to life as usual. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on April 30 announced that a vaccine could even be available by January 2021.

Whether a vaccine can end this pandemic successfully, however, depends on more than its effectiveness at providing immunity against the virus, or how quickly it can be produced in mass quantities. Americans also must choose to receive the vaccine.

According to some estimates, 50% to 70% of Americans would need to develop immunity to COVID-19—either naturally, or via a vaccine—in order to thwart the spread of the virus. If these estimates are correct, that could mean that nearly twice as many Americans would need to elect to receive a COVID-19 vaccine than those who currently opt to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza. Just 37% of American adults did so in 2017-2018, even in the midst of a historically severe flu season.

Making matters more complicated is the possibility that people who hold skeptical views about vaccine safety—sometimes referred to as “anti-vaxxers”—will not opt to receive the coronavirus vaccine. According to some estimates, about one fifth to two fifths of Americans express reservations about vaccine safety. If most of these individuals forego receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, they could potentially jeopardize the recovery process.

One of us is a doctoral candidate, and the other is a professor, who both study vaccine resistance. We conducted a study, which is currently undergoing peer review, where we estimate the number of Americans who report being willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, once it becomes available. We also investigate the reasons some Americans might refuse the vaccine.

We found that about one fifth of Americans, and more than half of people who hold skeptical views toward vaccine safety, may be unwilling to pursue vaccination. Although most Americans do plan to get vaccinated, non-compliance rates may be high enough to pose a threat to collective immunity.

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Is coronavirus changing minds about vaccine safety?

On the one hand, a pandemic may be encouraging anti-vaxxers to change their minds. One reason so many Americans doubt vaccine safety is due to complacency – the idea that, because high rates of vaccine compliance have kept us safe from diseases that once reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., segments of the population can hold anti-vaccine views without endangering public health.

Consistent with this view, research finds that when people are concerned that once nearly eradicated diseases might re-emerge to reach epidemic levels, people are more likely to trust recommendations from public health experts. Additionally,cross-national survey research suggests that people who live in parts of the world where the threat of epidemics are more likely tend to hold more positive views toward vaccines than the rest of the world.

Studies based on in-depth interviews with parents further suggest that parents who chose not to vaccinate their children are often willing to accept treatments for children with life-threatening illnesses.

On the other hand, however, it could be the case that anti-vaxxers remain suspicious of a COVID-19 vaccine, when it becomes available. Prominent anti-vaccine websites have already begun circulating misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine—such as the idea that a vaccine has existed for years and has been kept from public consumption. Additionally, recent research suggests that anti-vaccine views are tied to deeply held psychological and moral aversions to inoculation, implying that attitudes may be difficult to change.

What do anti-vaxxers say now?

We set out to investigate this important question. In a demographically representative survey of 493 U.S. adults conducted on April 15, 2020, we investigated whether people who hold skeptical views toward vaccine safety plan to receive a vaccine against COVID-19.

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Specifically, we asked respondents whether they would be willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 once a vaccine becomes available. Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents said that they would not.

Additionally, and consistent with the view that even a global pandemic may not persuade anti-vaxxers to get vaccinated, we find that 62% of people who are skeptical of vaccines said that they will forego COVID-19 vaccination.

To assess this, we measured vaccine skepticism by asking respondents three questions about whether they find vaccines to be safe, effective, and/or important—which is how vaccine skepticism is typically measured. Respondents indicated whether they thought each characteristic described vaccines “quite a bit,” “a moderate amount,” “a little bit,” or “not at all.” We then averaged the score across the three to create a scale of vaccine skepticism.

Nearly one-fifth (19%) of respondents were more vaccine skeptical than not. Among vaccine skeptics, 62% stated that they would not get vaccinated against COVID-19. By contrast, just 15% of those more supportive of vaccines than skeptical said that they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine.

We also asked respondents if they self-identified as anti-vaxxers, and nearly 16% said they did. For those that identified as anti-vaxxers, 44% said they would not vaccinate against COVID-19, compared to 19% of people who did not identify as anti-vaxxers.

A threat to collective immunity?

We believe that these findings, although preliminary, suggest that many people who hold anti-vaccine beliefs may jeopardize the effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available, due to issues of non-compliance. Furthermore, it appears that anti-vaccine sentiment is at least as widespread as it was before the pandemic began.

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