New funding announced for transatlantic research into COVID-19 vaccine engagement in the UK and USA

19 Nov 2021

The British Academy, the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Science & Innovation Network in the USA (SIN USA) have collaborated to award funding to 10 transatlantic studies focused on UK-US COVID-19 vaccine engagements.

The research programme – “COVID-19 Recovery: building future pandemic preparedness and understanding citizen engagement in the USA and UK” – provides UK and US-based researchers in the humanities and social sciences with funding to pursue research into bilateral UK-US vaccine engagement.

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.

The research programme follows a pilot study exploring levels of vaccine engagement in four locations: Oldham and Tower Hamlets in the UK, and the cities of Boston and Hartford in the US. The projects funded under this programme will build on this work with a focus on place and context at local and community levels.

Professor Simon Goldhill FBA, Foreign Secretary of the British Academy, said:

“COVID-19 continues to impact lives, communities and economies globally, though each individual and community is experiencing the pandemic in differing and dynamic contexts. For example, longstanding structural inequalities and historical injustices seem to be playing a significant role in the dialogues around vaccination. There is good reason to believe that vaccine engagement is weaker amongst disadvantaged groups, and, crucially, that this is a logical consequence of structural disadvantage and discrimination.

“Evidence from the SHAPE subjects (the Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy) is critical to understanding these challenges, and the research funded with the support of the Social Science Research Council and the Science & Innovation Network in the USA will provide invaluable insights into the factors influencing communities’ confidence in, and hesitancy around, engaging with the COVID vaccine. I wish each research the best of success and look forward to seeing what they produce.”

Professor Anna Harvey, President of the Social Science Research Council, said:

“The information networks that carry public health guidance into communities are among the most essential elements in a disease outbreak response. However, in today's information ecosystem, accurate information is not getting through to everyone, everywhere. The viral spread of mis- and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines has been widely acknowledged in the global health space as a major and growing threat to effective pandemic response, and we are in dire need of evidence-based strategies to counter mis- and disinformation and to support the spread and uptake of accurate health information. These research projects will be an essential resource for global policymakers as they build a community-based information ecosystem that supports the sharing of accurate and effective health information.”

Dame Karen Pierce DCMG, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the USA, said:

“COVID-19 vaccinations have astonished us with their efficacy and speed, and we should all be enormously proud of the work done by scientists to tackle the challenge of the pandemic. But our work does not stop with the availability of a vaccine. A critical part of moving forward as a global society is evidence-based vaccine engagement work using the expertise of social science and humanities researchers to overcome the current crisis and create resilience for the future.

“The US and the UK are home to world-leading researchers in these fields and I am proud that the British Academy, Social Science Research Council, and SIN USA have brought these communities together under this new and powerful funding instrument. The ten research projects funded under this prestigious grant programme represent an exceptional cohort of scholars from the United Kingdom and the USA. I am delighted that they will bring their expertise to bear on this most pressing of challenges, for the betterment of both our societies.”

The full list of awards is: 

  • "Mapping and visualising intersections of social inequalities, community mistrust, and vaccine hesitancy in online and physical spaces in the UK and US" – Dr Ozge Ozduzen, University of Sheffield; Dr Wenwen Dou, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Dr Billur Ozgul, Brunel University London; Dr Nelli Ferenczi, Brunel University London
  • "Evaluating the Influence of Exposure to Anti-vax Protests on Vaccine Hesitancy across Diverse Audiences" – Dr Reed Wood, University of Essex; Marie Juanchich, University of Essex; Dr Mark Ramirez, Arizona State University
  • "Understanding vaccine hesitancy amongst frontline workers – the influence of trade union and community representatives" – Professor Sian Moore, University of Greenwich; Dr Eklou Amendah, University of Southern Maine; Dr Calvin Burns, University of Greenwich; Professor Christina Clamp, Southern New Hampshire University
  • "Youth Participatory Action Research to explore the context of ethnic minority youth responses to COVID-19 vaccines in the United States and United Kingdom" – Dr Megan Schmidt-Sane, Institute of Development Studies; Dr Elizabeth Benninger, Case Western Reserve University; Ms Tabitha Hrynick, Institute of Development Studies; Dr Santiago Ripoll, Institute of Development Studies
  • "Identifying the trustworthiness of information sources during the COVID-19 pandemic: Enhancing information reception across the population" – Dr Ben Seyd, University of Kent; Dr Joseph A Hamm, Michigan State University; Professor Will Jennings, University of Southampton
  • "COVID and the coalfield: Vaccine hesitance in Wales and Appalachia" – Dr Christopher Saville, Bangor University; Professor Daniel Rhys Thomas, Public Health Wales; Dr April Young, University of Kentucky
  • "Securing the Goalposts on Vaccine Hesitancy" – Professor Silvia Sonderegger, University of Nottingham; Dr Andy Brownback, University of Arkansas; Professor Guillermo Cruces, University of Economics; Dr Seung-Keun, University of Nottingham
  • "Psychological Influences on Citizen COVID-19 Preventive Behaviours and Vaccine Engagement in the UK and US with particular regard to the importance of ethnicity" – Professor Rusi Jaspal, University of Brighton; Professor Julie Barnett, University of Bath; Professor Daniel Wright, University of Nevada
  • "Mind the Vaccination Gap: Understanding and Overcoming the Racial/Ethnic Inequalities in Vaccination Acceptance" – Marie Juanchich, University of Essex; Professor Wändi Bruine de Bruin, University of South Carolina; Dr Tim Chadborn, Public Health England; Dr Cara Lynell Booker, University of Essex
  • "Overcoming barriers to vaccination by empowering citizens to make deliberate choices" – Professor Peter John, King’s College London; Professor Peter Loewen, University of Toronto; Dr Manu Savani, Brunel University London.

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