KEY PONTIFICATION: If the coronavirus vaccine is 75 percent effective—which would be excellent, considering that the flu shot is only about 50 percent effective—roughly two-thirds of the population would need to be vaccinated, according to Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. But with 50% of the population now saying they won’t get a vaccine we could be in for a mask-wearing culture for a long time.
The Gallup poll that indicated that more people are not willing to get a possible COVID-19 vaccine is troubling but understandable. Among the most outspoken are the anti-vaxxers. Our current government has given them plenty of ammunition to distrust the FDA, CDC, and big pharma.
Marketers understand that changing the behavior, and beliefs, of consumers, is hard. When it comes to a potentially new COVID-19 vaccine changing the behavior of people is going to take a multi-touchpoint assault.
The first target to promote the safety of a vaccine has to be HCP’s. In talking with some physicians recently I heard that they are very suspicious of any potential vaccine for COVID-19. If they’re not on board you can forget about patients being comfortable with a COVID vaccination.
The second target is going to be insurers. This is especially true if there are multiple vaccine products that make it to the market. Insurers should mandate that customers get vaccinated but it has to be with facts, not threats.
Finally, there are the media. They would love nothing more than to report that people got sick from a COVID vaccine. To accomplish this, however, we need 100% absolute transparency. Pharma has to finally acknowledge that the power of connected patients online is more powerful than any DTC marketing.
MORE CONFUSION EQUALS FEAR
Trump has been talking up remdesivir after his bout with COVID but remdesivir has no substantial effect on a patient’s chances of survival, a clinical trial by the World Health Organization has found, delivering a significant blow to hopes of identifying existing medicines to treat the disease.
The results of the WHO trial also showed that the drugs had little effect on how long patients stayed in hospital. However, WHO researchers said the research was primarily designed to assess impact on in-hospital mortality.
It’s gotten so bad that social media is getting involved. According to STAT News “Facebook rolled out a new policy aimed at cracking down on vaccine falsehoods, a ballooning problem for the social network as a growing number of users with neutral views about vaccines appears to turn into vocal opponents”.
What this all means for pharma marketers is that people are getting more comfortable going online for health information because they want to know everything there is about this pandemic. I don’t expect this trend to change anytime soon. If pharma marketers think they can get by with the same old product websites they’re headed for trouble.
The election is a little over two week away but the damage Trump has done can’t be undone by spending more money on DTC. Pharma marketing is going to need an overhaul that puts patients at the center of everything they do.