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US Infectious Disease Physicians Predict a COVID-19 Vaccine by May 2021, According to InCrowd Data

November 17, 2020

Moderna and Pfizer Candidates Lead the Race, Yet Findings Surprisingly Show Doctors are Just as Hesitant to Prescribe an FDA Approved Vaccine as Patients are to Obtain It

WATERTOWN, MA November 17, 2020 — As fall 2020 brings a surge of COVID-19 cases and concerns for hospital capacity, US infectious disease specialists have shifted their assessment of candidates leading the vaccine development race. While on average physicians expect an approved vaccine by May 2021—a month sooner than expected in data from July 2020 —they also are voicing low levels of confidence in prescribing an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine for patients, and even lower confidence in Federal, state, and local policies around vaccine safety, distribution, and roll-out plans.

Data are from Wave 2 of the COVID-19 Vaccine Development research that was conducted by InCrowd, the pioneer for real-time, high-quality primary market intelligence for the life science industry.

“The US healthcare system is relying on physicians to inform and engage patients on COVID-19 vaccination, and these physicians are keenly monitoring vaccine development efforts. Their limited confidence in the vaccine and its deployment is a concern that manufacturers, public health experts, and policy leaders need to understand and address to gain public confidence and ultimately contain the virus spread,” said Daniel S. Fitzgerald, CEO of Apollo Intelligence, LLC, parent company to InCrowd. “InCrowd is continually monitoring the sentiment of physicians like these as part of our mission to ensure that healthcare professionals are heard.”

Moderna continues to hold the lead on efficacy metrics with physicians, as it did in InCrowd’s Wave 1 vaccine development report in early July 2020. The new Wave 2 findings were sourced in late October 2020, prior to recent news of favorable early clinical trial results from Moderna and Pfizer + BioNT candidates. Moderna and Pfizer are now viewed as #1 and #2 respectively in three milestones of vaccine development: first to obtain FDA approval, fastest to ramp up manufacturing, and first available for public access in the US. In the July 2020 report, Moderna and AstraZeneca were ranked #1 and #2 in the above three milestones.

In verbatim remarks, respondents note that the manufacturer most capable of rapid manufacturing and distribution may win the race, as clinical trials showed sufficient efficacy for each of the vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca. Awareness of the Pfizer vaccine shared in unaided responses by physicians also jumped from 37% in July to 81% in October.

Doctors are near-unanimous in the view that striving for herd immunity without vaccination was an ineffective or unethical strategy, citing mass casualties that would ensue. Yet less than half—just 47%—of US infectious disease specialists feel highly confident in prescribing an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. Such hesitancy is likely shared by patients, with respondents estimating that 40% of patients will be vaccine-hesitant.

Only one-third of infectious disease physicians in Wave 2 feel confident in local and state policies about vaccine rollout (32%), vaccine distribution and logistics (35%), and vaccine safety (36%). Even fewer respondents feel confident in Federal policies about vaccine rollout (21%), vaccine distribution and logistics (22%), and vaccine safety (26%).

On average, respondents predicted that 71% of the US population will need to be inoculated in order to achieve herd immunity—a threshold that increased slightly from 68% in July. Only 12% of physician respondents believe herd immunity could be achieved with vaccination rates below 60%.

Doctors’ priorities for the earliest communities to receive the vaccines still prioritize healthcare workers, with a three-way tie for the next group to be prioritized which includes patients with common COVID-19 comorbidities, patients with chronic respiratory diseases, and healthy patients ages 80 and over.

InCrowd’s Wave 2 of its Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine Development report included n=100 US infectious disease physicians responding to a 12-minute MicroSurvey between October 22-26, 2020. These included n=45 physicians in community hospitals, n=42 physicians in academic hospitals, and n=10 physicians in office-based settings. Wave 1 was fielded between June 26-July 6, 2020 to a similar sample group. Download a full copy of the Wave 2 COVID-19 Vaccine Development Report or visit Please note, views in this survey reflect opinions only as reported by responding physicians.

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