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COVID: unvaccinated people may be seen as ‘free riders’ and face discrimination

A new study has looked at more than 15,000 people across 21 countries to assess whether vaccinated and unvaccinated people discriminate against each o…



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More than five billion people globally have now been vaccinated against COVID-19. Of course, many of the three billion or so who haven’t may not yet have been able to access a COVID vaccine, particularly in low-income countries. But a portion of those who are unvaccinated have chosen not to get a shot.

Since COVID vaccines became available two years ago, we’ve seen increasingly wide and often bitter divergence between those who are vaccinated and those who have chosen not to be.

A recent study in Nature sought to investigate the extent of the intolerance and discrimination between people who are vaccinated and people who are unvaccinated against COVID. The researchers found that in most countries, people who are vaccinated display negative attitudes towards people who are not vaccinated. But interestingly, there was minimal evidence for the reverse.

The authors carried out three conjoint studies surveying more than 15,000 people from 21 countries across all inhabited continents. They used surveys designed to measure prejudice expressed in three forms: affective (for example, negative emotions towards a group), cognitive (for example, negative stereotypes) and attitudinal (for example, support for exclusion and removal of rights).

The surveys highlighted that vaccinated people expressed discriminatory attitudes towards unvaccinated people in all countries except Hungary and Romania.

Conversely, antipathy from unvaccinated people towards vaccinated people was only observed in Germany and the US.

In most countries, prejudice towards unvaccinated people was as high or higher than towards social groups who have traditionally been discriminated against, such as immigrants, ex-convicts and drug addicts.

Read more: Vaccine hesitancy is not new – history tells us we should listen, not condemn

The researchers found that many vaccinated people would not want their close relatives to marry someone who was not vaccinated (an example of affective expression). They also tended to perceive the unvaccinated as incompetent or less intelligent (cognitive expression).

A survey conducted only in the US as part of the wider study found people who are vaccinated believe unvaccinated people should be denied certain fundamental rights. This is an example of attitudinal expression.

For instance, some vaccinated people felt that unvaccinated people should face restrictions to their freedom of movement. A lower proportion advocated for restrictions to freedom of speech, access to US citizenship and welfare benefits.

A free ride?

Interestingly, the extent of discriminatory attitudes towards unvaccinated people was greater in countries with higher social trust and a stronger culture of cooperation. In such countries, people were more likely to agree with the statement “most people can be trusted”, as opposed to countries with lower social trust where the majority felt “you need to be very careful in dealing with people”.

The authors of the study interpret this finding through the lens of the psychology of human cooperation. That is, in countries with a pronounced sense of civic duty and individual responsibility towards the common good, people who benefit from the collective effort without contributing their part are perceived as “free riders”.

In this context the shared effort is of course getting vaccinated, and the collective benefits include a lower risk of infection and therefore illness and death, the end of lockdowns, and so on.

Countries with higher trust and a cooperative culture are typically more effective at suppressing epidemics. So it’s understandable and indeed natural that citizens in these countries in particular would harbour negative feeling towards these so-called free riders, whose choice to refuse vaccinations may endanger their peers and society at large.

A woman receives a vaccination.
Psychology can help us to understand this study’s findings. Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Although this study found greater evidence that vaccinated people discriminate against those who aren’t vaccinated, rather than the reverse, there are still vocal parts of the unvaccinated population that express hostility towards those who are vaccinated.

For example, some claim biological supremacy over the vaccinated, calling themselves “pure bloods”. The unfounded idea that vaccinated people are biologically inferior has gained increasing popularity among hardline vaccine sceptics and conspiracy theorists, to the point where some patients refuse transfusions with blood “tainted” by the vaccines.

These are extreme, and, thankfully, relatively rare forms of vaccine hesitancy. But such examples show it’s not just the vaccinated perpetuating negative attitudes.

Towards a polarised society

While social psychology offers an explanation for why vaccinated people may harbour resentment towards unvaccinated people, it’s important to remember that blanket discrimination directed at any social group is detrimental, not just towards those being discriminated against, but for society at large.

The authors of the study warn that in the short term, prejudice towards the unvaccinated may complicate the management of the pandemic, for example by alienating part of the population and making them even less likely to comply with preventive measures. In the long run, they suggest it may mean societies leave the pandemic more polarised than they entered it.

Read more: We measured vaccine confidence pre-pandemic and in 2022 – it's declined considerably

While anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists are frequently the ones who attract the most controversy, they’re not the only people who make up the unvaccinated population. For example, a person may refuse or delay vaccination due to medical conditions, mental health issues or needle phobia, or because they’re part of a minority with negative past experience with health authorities.

This study reinforces how important it is for governments and healthcare workers to communicate public health information in a transparent and non-judgemental way. It’s essential to understand the diverse reasons why people might hesitate about vaccinations, and to communicate the importance of preventive measures (for the individual and wider society) without discriminating or antagonising hesitant people or groups.

Alessandro Siani does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Angry Shouting Aside, Here’s What Biden Is Running On

Angry Shouting Aside, Here’s What Biden Is Running On

Last night, Joe Biden gave an extremely dark, threatening, angry State of the Union…



Angry Shouting Aside, Here's What Biden Is Running On

Last night, Joe Biden gave an extremely dark, threatening, angry State of the Union address - in which he insisted that the American economy is doing better than ever, blamed inflation on 'corporate greed,' and warned that Donald Trump poses an existential threat to the republic.

But in between the angry rhetoric, he also laid out his 2024 election platform - for which additional details will be released on March 11, when the White House sends its proposed budget to Congress.

To that end, Goldman Sachs' Alec Phillips and Tim Krupa have summarized the key points:


While railing against billionaires (nothing new there), Biden repeated the claim that anyone making under $400,000 per year won't see an increase in their taxes.  He also proposed a 21% corporate minimum tax, up from 15% on book income outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), as well as raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% (which would promptly be passed along to consumers in the form of more inflation). Goldman notes that "Congress is unlikely to consider any of these proposals this year, they would only come into play in a second Biden term, if Democrats also won House and Senate majorities."

Biden also called on Congress to restore the pandemic-era child tax credit.


Instead of simply passing a slew of border security Executive Orders like the Trump ones he shredded on day one, Biden repeated the lie that Congress 'needs to act' before he can (translation: send money to Ukraine or the US border will continue to be a sieve).

As immigration comes into even greater focus heading into the election, we continue to expect the Administration to tighten policy (e.g., immigration has surged 20pp the last 7 months to first place with 28% in Gallup’s “most important problem” survey). As such, we estimate the foreign-born contribution to monthly labor force growth will moderate from 110k/month in 2023 to around 70-90k/month in 2024. -GS


Biden, with House Speaker Mike Johnson doing his best impression of a bobble-head, urged Congress to pass additional assistance for Ukraine based entirely on the premise that Russia 'won't stop' there (and would what, trigger article 5 and WW3 no matter what?), despite the fact that Putin explicitly told Tucker Carlson he has no further ambitions, and in fact seeks a settlement.

As Goldman estimates, "While there is still a clear chance that such a deal could come together, for now there is no clear path forward for Ukraine aid in Congress."


Biden, forgetting about all the aggressive tariffs, suggested that Trump had been soft on China, and that he will stand up "against China's unfair economic practices" and "for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."


Lastly, Biden proposed to expand drug price negotiations to 50 additional drugs each year (an increase from 20 outlined in the IRA), which Goldman said would likely require bipartisan support "even if Democrats controlled Congress and the White House," as such policies would likely be ineligible for the budget "reconciliation" process which has been used in previous years to pass the IRA and other major fiscal party when Congressional margins are just too thin.

So there you have it. With no actual accomplishments to speak of, Biden can only attack Trump, lie, and make empty promises.

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/08/2024 - 18:00

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United Airlines adds new flights to faraway destinations

The airline said that it has been working hard to "find hidden gem destinations."



Since countries started opening up after the pandemic in 2021 and 2022, airlines have been seeing demand soar not just for major global cities and popular routes but also for farther-away destinations.

Numerous reports, including a recent TripAdvisor survey of trending destinations, showed that there has been a rise in U.S. traveler interest in Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and Vietnam as well as growing tourism traction in off-the-beaten-path European countries such as Slovenia, Estonia and Montenegro.

Related: 'No more flying for you': Travel agency sounds alarm over risk of 'carbon passports'

As a result, airlines have been looking at their networks to include more faraway destinations as well as smaller cities that are growing increasingly popular with tourists and may not be served by their competitors.

The Philippines has been popular among tourists in recent years.


United brings back more routes, says it is committed to 'finding hidden gems'

This week, United Airlines  (UAL)  announced that it will be launching a new route from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Morocco's Marrakesh. While it is only the country's fourth-largest city, Marrakesh is a particularly popular place for tourists to seek out the sights and experiences that many associate with the country — colorful souks, gardens with ornate architecture and mosques from the Moorish period.

More Travel:

"We have consistently been ahead of the curve in finding hidden gem destinations for our customers to explore and remain committed to providing the most unique slate of travel options for their adventures abroad," United's SVP of Global Network Planning Patrick Quayle, said in a press statement.

The new route will launch on Oct. 24 and take place three times a week on a Boeing 767-300ER  (BA)  plane that is equipped with 46 Polaris business class and 22 Premium Plus seats. The plane choice was a way to reach a luxury customer customer looking to start their holiday in Marrakesh in the plane.

Along with the new Morocco route, United is also launching a flight between Houston (IAH) and Colombia's Medellín on Oct. 27 as well as a route between Tokyo and Cebu in the Philippines on July 31 — the latter is known as a "fifth freedom" flight in which the airline flies to the larger hub from the mainland U.S. and then goes on to smaller Asian city popular with tourists after some travelers get off (and others get on) in Tokyo.

United's network expansion includes new 'fifth freedom' flight

In the fall of 2023, United became the first U.S. airline to fly to the Philippines with a new Manila-San Francisco flight. It has expanded its service to Asia from different U.S. cities earlier last year. Cebu has been on its radar amid growing tourist interest in the region known for marine parks, rainforests and Spanish-style architecture.

With the summer coming up, United also announced that it plans to run its current flights to Hong Kong, Seoul, and Portugal's Porto more frequently at different points of the week and reach four weekly flights between Los Angeles and Shanghai by August 29.

"This is your normal, exciting network planning team back in action," Quayle told travel website The Points Guy of the airline's plans for the new routes.

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Walmart launches clever answer to Target’s new membership program

The retail superstore is adding a new feature to its Walmart+ plan — and customers will be happy.



It's just been a few days since Target  (TGT)  launched its new Target Circle 360 paid membership plan. 

The plan offers free and fast shipping on many products to customers, initially for $49 a year and then $99 after the initial promotional signup period. It promises to be a success, since many Target customers are loyal to the brand and will go out of their way to shop at one instead of at its two larger peers, Walmart and Amazon.

Related: Walmart makes a major price cut that will delight customers

And stop us if this sounds familiar: Target will rely on its more than 2,000 stores to act as fulfillment hubs. 

This model is a proven winner; Walmart also uses its more than 4,600 stores as fulfillment and shipping locations to get orders to customers as soon as possible.

Sometimes, this means shipping goods from the nearest warehouse. But if a desired product is in-store and closer to a customer, it reduces miles on the road and delivery time. It's a kind of logistical magic that makes any efficiency lover's (or retail nerd's) heart go pitter patter. 

Walmart rolls out answer to Target's new membership tier

Walmart has certainly had more time than Target to develop and work out the kinks in Walmart+. It first launched the paid membership in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, when many shoppers sheltered at home but still required many staples they might ordinarily pick up at a Walmart, like cleaning supplies, personal-care products, pantry goods and, of course, toilet paper. 

It also undercut Amazon  (AMZN)  Prime, which costs customers $139 a year for free and fast shipping (plus several other benefits including access to its streaming service, Amazon Prime Video). 

Walmart+ costs $98 a year, which also gets you free and speedy delivery, plus access to a Paramount+ streaming subscription, fuel savings, and more. 

An employee at a Merida, Mexico, Walmart. (Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

If that's not enough to tempt you, however, Walmart+ just added a new benefit to its membership program, ostensibly to compete directly with something Target now has: ultrafast delivery. 

Target Circle 360 particularly attracts customers with free same-day delivery for select orders over $35 and as little as one-hour delivery on select items. Target executes this through its Shipt subsidiary.

We've seen this lightning-fast delivery speed only in snippets from Amazon, the king of delivery efficiency. Who better to take on Target, though, than Walmart, which is using a similar store-as-fulfillment-center model? 

"Walmart is stepping up to save our customers even more time with our latest delivery offering: Express On-Demand Early Morning Delivery," Walmart said in a statement, just a day after Target Circle 360 launched. "Starting at 6 a.m., earlier than ever before, customers can enjoy the convenience of On-Demand delivery."

Walmart  (WMT)  clearly sees consumers' desire for near-instant delivery, which obviously saves time and trips to the store. Rather than waiting a day for your order to show up, it might be on your doorstep when you wake up. 

Consumers also tend to spend more money when they shop online, and they remain stickier as paying annual members. So, to a growing number of retail giants, almost instant gratification like this seems like something worth striving for.

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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