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Professor John Gibson

Public Misunderstanding of COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

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Public misunderstanding of pivotal COVID-19 vaccine trials may contribute to New Zealand’s adoption of a costly and economically inefficient vaccine mandate



New Zealand adopted a policy of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for workers in many sectors.

Existing analysis suggests expected costs of this mandate policy far outweigh benefits.

This paper discusses an issue potentially contributing to adoption of this costly vaccine mandate policy.

There is a widespread public misunderstanding about the testing the vaccines underwent in the pivotal trials underpinning their approval, with over 95% of New Zealand’s voting-age public believing that the vaccines were tested against more demanding criteria than was actually the case.

Consequently, public expectations about performance of these vaccines were likely inflated, and expected benefits of vaccine mandates may have been overstated. The ambiguous evidence on effects of COVID-19 vaccination on mortality risk also highlights the importance of these informational problems.

If the public misunderstanding described here persists, a continuation of inefficient vaccine mandates whose costs exceed benefits is likely.

To read the full article click HERE


CITATION: John Gibson (2022) Public misunderstanding of pivotal COVID-19 vaccine trials may contribute to New Zealand’s adoption of a costly and economically inefficient vaccine mandate, New Zealand Economic Papers, DOI: 10.1080/00779954.2022.2077812