The influence of COVID-19 risk perception and vaccination status on the number of social contacts across Europe: insights from the CoMix study.

Wambua J, Loedy N, Jarvis CI, Wong KLM, Faes C, Grah R, Prasse B, Sandmann F, Niehus R, Johnson H, Edmunds WJ, Beutels P, Hens N, Coletti P

BMC Public Health 23 (1) 1350 [2023-07-13; online 2023-07-13]

The SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics have been greatly modulated by human contact behaviour. To curb the spread of the virus, global efforts focused on implementing both Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) and pharmaceutical interventions such as vaccination. This study was conducted to explore the influence of COVID-19 vaccination status and risk perceptions related to SARS-CoV-2 on the number of social contacts of individuals in 16 European countries. We used data from longitudinal surveys conducted in the 16 European countries to measure social contact behaviour in the course of the pandemic. The data consisted of representative panels of participants in terms of gender, age and region of residence in each country. The surveys were conducted in several rounds between December 2020 and September 2021 and comprised of 29,292 participants providing a total of 111,103 completed surveys. We employed a multilevel generalized linear mixed effects model to explore the influence of risk perceptions and COVID-19 vaccination status on the number of social contacts of individuals. The results indicated that perceived severity played a significant role in social contact behaviour during the pandemic after controlling for other variables (p-value < 0.001). More specifically, participants who had low or neutral levels of perceived severity reported 1.25 (95% Confidence intervals (CI) 1.13 - 1.37) and 1.10 (95% CI 1.00 - 1.21) times more contacts compared to those who perceived COVID-19 to be a serious illness, respectively. Additionally, vaccination status was also a significant predictor of contacts (p-value < 0.001), with vaccinated individuals reporting 1.31 (95% CI 1.23 - 1.39) times higher number of contacts than the non-vaccinated. Furthermore, individual-level factors played a more substantial role in influencing contact behaviour than country-level factors. Our multi-country study yields significant insights on the importance of risk perceptions and vaccination in behavioral changes during a pandemic emergency. The apparent increase in social contact behaviour following vaccination would require urgent intervention in the event of emergence of an immune escaping variant.

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Category: Vaccines

Funder: H2020

Type: Journal article

PubMed 37442987

DOI 10.1186/s12889-023-16252-z

Crossref 10.1186/s12889-023-16252-z

pmc: PMC10347859
pii: 10.1186/s12889-023-16252-z

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