April 5th, 2021

Surprisingly, patients are more willing to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial as coronavirus vaccines become more widely available.

Marking more than a year since the pandemic began, the world has witnessed how essential clinical research is to creating safe, life-changing treatments. And, more specifically, people are clearly seeing how clinical trials have led to bringing the current coronavirus vaccines to market, now with more than 118 million doses administered in the US alone.

Despite the first vaccines rolling out, more research is required to optimize vaccination regimens and booster doses, and to understand long-term safety and efficacy. Knowing this, SubjectWell tapped into our patient network to get a better understanding of patients’ willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccination in addition to partaking in future COVID-19 clinical research, as patient recruitment for these trials remains top priority.

From February 1 to 10, 2021, we polled 574 respondents from South Africa, the UK, and the US. These respondents had not yet received COVID-19 vaccinations, nor had they taken part in a clinical trial related to COVID-19.

The following are our findings on patients’ current attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccine and participation in future COVID-19 vaccine trials.


Willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccination varies significantly by country.

To start, respondents were asked their likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccination if determined by scientists to be safe and if the vaccine was free and available to everyone.

Likelihood of patients getting a COVID-19 vaccination by country:

82% of patients in the UK

70% of patients in the US

53% of patients in South Africa

We then asked if patients were likely to participate in a clinical trial for a new COVID-19 vaccine, comparing their likelihood of participating when (A) COVID-19 vaccines have limited availability and (B) COVID-19 vaccines are widely available. Surprisingly, our findings show that patients across all three countries are more likely to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial as COVID-19 vaccines become widely available.

Likelihood of patients participating in a COVID-19 vaccine trial by country while COVID-19 vaccines:

  • UK
  • US
  • South Africa

Have limited availability

64% UK vs 48% US vs 40% South Africa


Have widespread availability

69% UK vs 57% US vs 52% South Africa


Fear of health risks from current COVID-19 vaccines accounts for increased participation rate in a future trial.

When we asked respondents whose likelihood of participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial increased when COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available, their reasons for being willing to participate include working toward a more normal future, helping their communities, and further advancing research. However, the most common explanation involved a general hesitation surrounding the current vaccines and that, as time passed and vaccine availability increased, the patients’ understanding of COVID-19 vaccine safety would increase as well.


Countries with low likelihood of vaccination rates see larger increases in COVID-19 vaccine trial participation when vaccines become more available.

South Africa, which had the lowest likely vaccination rate (53%), demonstrated the highest increase in the likelihood of trial participation (28%) once the vaccines become widely available. The UK, which had the highest likely vaccination rate (82%), in contrast, had only a moderate increase in the likelihood of trial participation (8%) once the vaccines become more available.


Addressing vaccine hesitancy and building trust.

This survey highlights the impact of COVID-19 vaccine hesitation on vaccination rates and on future COVID-19 vaccine trial participation in three countries. Armed with this knowledge, educating on the vaccine’s low side effects and high effectiveness, while harnessing the inherent desire to protect ourselves and our communities, will help build needed trust in the COVID-19 vaccine and healthcare system.

To request a download of the complete survey data, visit www.subjectwell.com/surveys. Be sure to check back on our website for more information related to patient recruitment and survey findings.

Have any questions for our marketplace? Reach out by emailing sales@subjectwell.com.