By Julene Reese
Two new studies from the Western Rural Development Center (WRDC) based at Utah State University show a link between political opinions, vaccination levels and per capita COVID-19 cases and deaths.
“Politics and the Spread of COVID-19 in the United States,” published in Medical Research Archives, and “Vaccination, Politics and COVID-19 Impacts,” published in BMC Public Health, highlight political views strongly related to vaccination rates and how they affect COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Don Albrecht, author of the studies and executive director of the WRDC, said previous research had been done, but these studies look at more recent data and include information on the impacts of vaccination.
He said the research is relevant to shedding light on the fact that the denial of science and failure to follow best medical practice have critical consequences and have resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Albrecht’s research in the Medical Research Archives reports that the relationship between political opinions and COVID-19 death rates was particularly strong after vaccines were made available to the general public. After March 1, 2021, the per capita death rate from COVID-19 in counties where President Donald Trump received more than 75% of the vote was more than three times higher than in counties where he received less than 25. %.
“The results of this study indicate that residents of counties supporting Trump were less likely to follow the advice of health experts, including wearing masks, social distancing, and vaccinating against COVID-19,” it said. he declares. “The consequences were severe as the virus spread and death rates increased.”
His research in BMC Public Health includes a statistical model that was developed and tested to explore the impacts of political opinions on vaccination rates and COVID-19 cases and deaths per 100,000 population in US counties.
“These data strongly supported the model,” he said. “In counties with a high percentage of Republican voters, vaccination rates were significantly lower, and COVID-19 cases and deaths per 100,000 population were much higher.”
Albrecht said that because Republican political and opinion leaders often downplayed the virus and did not encourage vaccination, Republican-leaning counties were less likely to implement safety measures or encourage vaccination of residents. and, as a result, have suffered an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths. rates.
“To successfully address these issues, it is essential that experts are able to effectively communicate scientifically-based information to the general public and that policy makers use the best available information to develop policies,” he said. “Critical to moving forward is finding ways to overcome political divisions and rebuild trust in science and health professionals.”
To read the full reports and citations, click here for the Medical Research Archives report and click here for the BMC Public Health Report.