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Poll: Swiss counting on vaccines to lift them out of the pandemic

The idea of working from home is popular among survey respondents. Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The coronavirus pandemic is beginning to take its toll on the morale of the Swiss, with isolation and loss of freedom, the top two concerns among the population, according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). The poll also showed that the vaccine is increasingly being seen as the light at the end of the tunnel. 

This content was published on January 15, 2021 - 17:14

The sixth pandemic survey was carried out between January 8 and 11, in between two sets of government announcements. The government had already implemented restrictions at the national level at the beginning of the month and had indicated that further tightening was imminent. January 13, another semi-lockdown was announced.  

The first week of January also saw the start of the vaccination campaign in certain cantons and simultaneously the emergence of new variants of the virus. 

Morale at half mast 

This new survey shows that the ongoing spread of the virus and persistent lockdown measures are starting to take its toll on public morale. The two fears most often cited in the poll are the limitation of freedom (61% of respondents) and loneliness and social isolation (51%). This is the first time these concerns have been mentioned so frequently. 

Meanwhile, other Covid-related concerns have stagnated or diminished. For example, fear of unemployment has dropped from 21% last October to 19%. Only 40% of those surveyed are now afraid of being infected, compared with 45% in October, a decrease that the pollsters attribute to the rollout of vaccines. 

Concerns depend on demographics. People under-65s are primarily worried about the impact of the pandemic on their jobs or finances, while the over-65s are more afraid of an infection and its consequences. On a societal level, fears related to the general economic situation are the most commonly cited (30%). 

Banking on the vaccine 

The survey shows that the start of the vaccination campaigns is cause for hope. More than half of those polled (58%) believe that the danger will disappear thanks to an effective vaccine. Just as many respondents believe that the virus will not disappear, but that we will have to learn to live with it. 

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The intention of getting vaccinated is gaining ground. Forty-one percent of those surveyed now say they would be willing to get vaccinated immediately, up from only 16% in October. The proportion of those who absolutely do not want to be vaccinated is decreasing from 28% in October to 24% today. 

However, a significant proportion of the population have yet to make up their minds. Over a third of those surveyed (35%) prefer to wait. The reason most often cited is caution: 60% want to be sure that the vaccine will not have any significant side effects. 

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In favour of teleworking  

Not all of the recent measures implemented by the government are accepted the same way. The obligation to work from home is widely supported, with 74% in favour. The ban on more than five people meeting in the public space is also widely supported (64%). The wearing of masks, which was decried a few months ago, is now largely accepted: 82% of those surveyed are in favour of wearing masks at public events, 81% in shops, 71% in offices and 67% outdoors when social distances cannot be respected. 

However, other measures don’t go down as well. For example, more than half of the respondents (56%) are opposed to the closure of non-essential shops. And the idea of restricting movement in heavily infected areas was rejected by 63% of those surveyed. 

Among the decisions that have caused controversy in Switzerland and abroad is the opening of ski slopes. The survey shows that the Swiss do not see this as a major problem: 46% are in favour of opening the ski resorts throughout Switzerland with appropriate protective measures, 18% are in favour of closing them only in the cantons where the health situation requires it, and 37% are in favour of closing them completely. 

Trust in government, which was high at the onset of the pandemic, continues to erode. The proportion of those polled who consider themselves to have great or very great confidence in the work of the governing Federal Council fell from 38% in October to 32% today. As a reminder, in March this proportion was still 61%. 

When asked how well Switzerland is doing in comparison with its neighbours, 28% think it is doing better and 34% worse.   

Survey Details 

The survey was carried out by the Sotomo institute on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), of which swissinfo.ch is a part. 

This is the sixth survey carried out since March 2020. 

The survey was conducted online among 43,797 people in all language regions between January 8 and 11. 

As this is not a representative poll - participants are not selected but respond on a voluntary basis - a weighting procedure was carried out by the pollster. The margin of error is +/- 1.1%. 

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