Diversity Impact on Vaccine Equity in Pakistan

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This publication was produced by MRG’s partner(s) with MRG. It remains the property of the organization(s) in question and does not necessarily reflect the views of MRG.

Bytes for All (B4A) conducted this research, in association with Minority Rights Group (MRG), with the aim to track and understand online sharing across diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic communities about Covid-19 vaccine confidence, uptake and access in Pakistan. This report provides a brief analysis of the monitoring efforts from February 2021 (the beginning of the vaccine drive in Pakistan) to December 2021. The sources of data for this research are two social media platforms: Twitter and Facebook, and in-person interviews and surveys, for the purpose of producing journalistic articles.

The report highlights the following key findings:

  1. Concerns relating to Covid-19 vaccine confidence dominated online conversations across the sample while the degree to which these groups had concerns varied. Meanwhile, issues of access to vaccine and distrust in authorities were also discussed but not in as great a volume as discussions about vaccine confidence. Of the total sample of comments analyzed, 98 per cent of the sample comments were related to conversations on Covid-19 vaccine confidence and reservations about the vaccine, 59 per cent on access to vaccines, and 43 per cent related to distrust in health and other government authorities.
  2. The online conversations of the social media users from the sample reflect a higher level of confidence in Covid-19 vaccines, overall. However, the level of confidence varied between comments in Urdu and in English. In comparison to English, comments in Urdu express low to no confidence in Covid-19 vaccines.
  3. Doubt over vaccine safety, vaccine efficacy and conspiracy related fears dominated conversations among those with low and no confidence in the Covid-19 vaccine.
  4. Of the sample, many social media comments in Urdu, with low or no vaccine confidence, had conspiracy related fears about the vaccine, doubt over vaccine efficacy and its safety, as well as religious concerns. While, among the English comments, with low or no vaccine confidence, the concern raised by the majority of comments was about vaccine safety.

The report concludes that the extensive social media monitoring reveals that there is no data available online that determines vaccine discrimination towards religious or ethnic minorities in Pakistan. However, the available data suggests that there is misinformation and fears about the vaccine among the general public, yet nothing specific to minorities has been identified to date although research is continuing.

The on-the-ground data reveals that the vaccines are available to everyone in Pakistan without any sort of discrimination on the basis of religion, but doubts about Covid-19 vaccine safety remain an obstacle in getting vaccinated. People have doubts over vaccine safety, vaccine efficacy and conspiracy related fears about the vaccine.

This Bulletin was published in the context of MRG’s Diversity: Impact on Vaccine Equality (DIVE) programme (2021-2022).

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