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Closing the COVID Trust Deficit

Economists have developed an emerging body of evidence that holds important lessons for overcoming COVID-19 information constraints, combating misinformation, and building trust in health systems. These insights may also help to improve delivery and increase uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

STANFORD/BOSTON/PARIS – The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines is giving the world hope of ending the pandemic, but many countries remain consumed by the virus’s spread. So, as we wait for widespread availability and distribution of the vaccines, preventive health measures such as social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing will remain critical to containing the disease.

For some, following this guidance is not feasible. Many poor people, for example, must contend with overcrowding, limited access to clean water and soap, and the absence of robust social safety nets.

Beyond material constraints, however, lie others related to information and trust. Some may be unaware of public-health guidelines or may not understand the specific steps to follow. Misinformation about COVID-19 can undermine the recommended measures. And in some contexts, lack of confidence in the health system itself may reduce adherence to guidelines.