COVID recovery in the G7

The British Academy has awarded funding to seven research projects focused on COVID-19 vaccine engagement across the G7 group of nations. In the year in which the UK is hosting the G7 Presidency, the British Academy has convened an international network of social science and humanities academies and representative bodies of the G7 countries to develop a series of statements that will illustrate the central importance of the humanities and social sciences to the major global challenges of today.

Funded by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, each award is worth up to £100,000 and will last for up to five months in duration.

Ref: COVG7210038

Award Value: £79,722.00

Research Team: Dr Santiago Ripoll, Institute of Development Studies; Ms Tabitha Hrynick, Institute of Development Studies; Dr Ashley Ouvrier, LaSSA; Professor Kathleen Wilson, University of Toronto Mississauga

Title: "Vaccine equity in multicultural urban settings: A comparative analysis of local government and community action, contextualised political economies, and moral frameworks in Toronto and Marseille"

Abstract: Despite the high overall vaccination rates in G7 countries such as Canada, France, or the UK, significant in-country disparities are apparent, with lower vaccine uptake in urban lower-income and multicultural areas. This project contends that local governments, health actors, community groups and residents play key roles in shaping vaccine (in)equity. There has been little systematic learning about "vaccine engagement" at this level. Through ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews in Greater Toronto and Marseille, this project will seek to understand how relationships between and within local government, health system actors and community groups and residents shape vaccine (in)equity in urban settings. This project will seek to understand how experiences of structural inequalities intersect with local people’s social and moral frameworks and how these are reflected or ignored in local government approaches to promoting and delivering COVID-19 vaccines. This multi-dimensional approach will yield lessons for enhancing vaccination in the future in these urban settings.


Ref: COVG7210058

Award Value: £79,721.00

Research Team: Dr Elizabeth Storer, London School of Economics and Political Science; Dr Naomi Pendle, London School of Economics and Political Science; Dr Iliana Sarafian, London School of Economics and Political Science

Title: "Ethnographies of (Dis)Engagement: Understanding Vaccine Rejection in Chronically Neglected Communities across the G7"

Abstract: "Ethnographies of (Dis)Engagement" seeks to understand mistrust of COVID-19 vaccinations among some of the hardest to reach communities across G7 countries. Building on pre-existing research, the project will produce case studies from Roma communities, undocumented migrants and African diaspora across Italy and Canada. Cases will focus on understanding vaccine "hesitancy" within wider contexts of historical and contemporary disenfranchisement and discrimination, whilst foregrounding agential decisions made as individuals and groups to endure health crises. This research will bring cases that policymakers know very little about into conversation with qualitative research commissioned through two EU Horizon projects, Sonar-Global and Pan-European Response to the Impacts of COVID-19 and Future Pandemics and Epidemics (PERISCOPE), since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. We will draw on these networks to translate unpublished ethnographic evidence for policymakers, to better inform decision-making to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and future pandemics.


Ref: COVG7210010

Award Value: £66,921.00

Research Team: Dr Agnes Nanyonjo, University of Lincoln; Professor Kelly Grindrod, University of Waterloo; Professor Aloysius Niroshan, University of Lincoln; Dr Moses Tetui, University of Waterloo

Title: "Diffusion of COVID-19 vaccines: Building vaccine confidence among diverse communities in Canada and the United Kingdom"

Abstract: Vaccines are the most effective tool addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, but vaccine uptake is suboptimal in certain communities in Canada and the United Kingdom (UK). At personal and community levels, there are various reasons for hesitancy towards vaccination. This study will explore how policy changes and mis/disinformation are experienced in communities with low vaccine confidence and co-develop products which build trust in vaccines in target communities. To understand COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy, we will compare social responses to policies and actions undertaken to build vaccine confidence in communities that have shown low, average, or high levels of hesitancy in Canada and the UK. Changes in COVID-19 vaccination policies over time, their communication, community reactions; and community actions to build vaccine confidence will be explored through document reviews and interviews with community members and representatives. Recommendations for building vaccine confidence will be shared with policy and decision-makers and the public.


Ref: COVG7210028

Award Value: £96,010.00

Research Team: Professor Federico Federici, University College London; Professor Rachele Antonini, Università di Bologna; Dr Andrea Ciribuco, University College London

Title: "STRIVE - Sustainable Translations to Reduce Inequalities and Vaccination Hesitancy"

Abstract: This project aims to understand whether effective translation practices can reduce the impact of linguistic differences as factors determining vaccine uptake between migrants and local populations in Italy. The lack of trustworthy information in a language that migrants can understand, coupled with cultural beliefs causing distrust in the health system and/or vaccines, greatly contributes to migrants’ low engagement with the vaccination campaign. STRIVE focuses on how different actors (NGOs, activists, health workers) employ multilingual practices such as translation/interpreting to overcome these inequalities and vaccination hesitancy. This project will use a VAX scale questionnaire, supported by a survey and semi-structured interviews to capture migrants’ language needs in relation to COVID-19, and the translation strategies addressing those needs. STRIVE will compare translation practices in the Emilia-Romagna region and in Rome to assess their validity and inform responses to future crises, as well as communication strategies underpinning regular vaccination campaigns.


Ref: COVG7210059

Award Value: £69,364.00

Research Team: Dr Itziar Castello, University of Surrey; Dr Elanor Colleoni, IULM University Milan; Dr Marie Joachim, Essca School of Management; Dr Noreen O’Meara, University of Surrey

Title: "Fighting fake news: online disinformation in COVID times"

Abstract: Fake news amplifies existential threats posed to societies recently exemplified by the anti-vax movements. Using social media analysis, this project will identify discourses adopted by anti-vax campaigns and the most effective counter-campaigns to fight online harm and reduce vaccine hesitancy in Italy, France and Ireland. This project will analyse the discursive strategies and the cultural, social, legal and economic factors that might influence the diffusion of misinformation on COVID 19. Through expertise in emotional socio-symbolic strategies, we will focus on the role of emotions, not only disseminating fake news but in fighting fake news. This project will translate the findings into strategies for policymakers and NGOs to more effectively overcome reduce vaccine hesitancy. The findings will also inform the wider regulatory space in the EU, Member States and the UK, where legislative and policy efforts are being made to improve online safety and the accountability of online platforms.


Ref: COVG7210019

Award Value: £99,510.00

Research Team: Professor Thorsten Chmura, Nottingham Trent University; Dr Maria Karanika-Murray, Nottingham Trent University; Dr Ludovica Orlandi, Nottingham Trent University

Title: "Mapping the roles of divisions, risk and norms to overcome vaccine hesitancy in the UK, Germany and Italy"

Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has led to major disruptions in life worldwide. Several highly effective vaccines have been approved by the relevant authorities. Despite these authorisations and strong promotion by the governments who see vaccines as essential to restore normality, pockets of vaccine hesitancy remain among the population. Initial evidence indicates that hesitancy correlates with the experience of (long-standing) marginalisation and tumultuous relationships with the authorities in a community. This project will use representative samples in three countries to investigate how these histories of othering and exclusion at a national level affect attitudes towards vaccination today. In addition, it will investigate what norms exist in those communities and the role of local and national leaders and peers in shaping those norms. In trying to isolate the effect of the communities this project will measure and account for the individual risk and prosocial preferences, as well as trust.


Ref: COVG7210041

Award Value: £88,016.00

Research Team: Dr Melissa Jogie, University of Roehampton; Dr James Gilleen, University of Roehampton; Professor Christopher Smith, Nagasaki University

Title: "Adapting to the ‘New Normal’: Implications for post-COVID-19 Health Communication and Education"

Abstract: Although many countries are lifting restrictions, there remains much uncertainty over how nations will function with the ongoing risks of COVID-19 (or future variants) under a "new normal". This project will investigate the likeliness of communities in Japan and the UK adapting to incumbent changes to health policies, guidance, and social etiquettes, given the prospects of new waves of infection, social restrictions, employment requirements, and changes in the availability and distribution of vaccines. This will be facilitated using a mixed-methods design, in one region with a relatively low recorded rate of vaccine uptake or confidence, in both Japan and the UK. The design builds on the COVID-19 work of two of the project contributors, on mental anxiety and social contact patterns, respectively. The study will consider civic engagement as a driver of vaccine engagement in the new normal and dovetails with the British Academy’s recommended ‘CLEAR’ principles for policy change.

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