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Public opinion on global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines: Evidence from two nationally representative surveys in Germany and the United States

Georg-August-University of Göttingen

In June 2021, a team of researchers from the University of Göttingen conducted a representative survey in Germany and the USA to find out how the population assesses the global distribution of vaccines.

  • Disziplin: Sozial
  • Forschungsmethode: Quantitativ
  • Forschungsdesign: Primärerhebung, Repräsentativ angelegte Befragung
  • Erhebungsstatus: Erhebung abgeschlossen, Ergebnisse veröffentlicht

Ziele der Studie

There are great disparities between countries across the globe with respect to access to COVID-19 vaccine doses. As of mid-October 2021, only 2.8% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile and by the same date, 65.2% of people in the United States and 68.3% in Germany have received at least one dose of the vaccine and both countries have secured a vaccine supply that would suffice 337% and 242% of their population, respectively. The reluctance of countries who could afford to share more vaccines might be due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, but in addition, it could reflect political concerns about public disagreement.
This raises the question that which distribution principles are favoured by the populations in the HICs that have ample access to vaccines:

  • distributing the vaccines according to greater outcome (utilitarian)
  • equality for all (egalitarian)
  • merits based on research and development (R&D) or vaccine production efforts, or the present status quo
  • based on free market principles

In this line of thought, the study investigates which of these grounds are supported by the populations in the United States and Germany as the leading countries in the R&D of COVID-19 vaccines.


The researchers conducted representative surveys among the adult populations in the United States (N = 1,000) and Germany (N = 1,003) in June 2021 to assess public opinion in these countries on the distributive justice of COVID-19 vaccines. They conducted two instances of analytic hierarchy processes (AHP) to elicit how the public weighs different principles and criteria for vaccine allocation. In further discrete choice experiments, respondents were asked to split a limited supply of vaccine doses between a hypothetical high-income and a hypothetical low-income country.


The data from this study is not yet available for open re-use. Please contact the responsible persons of the study.