Frustration or wisdom? We’ve all got our reasons to consider taking a vaccine at this rate. But, have we been on board since day one? Here’s the GCC’s vaccination journey.
2021’s biggest topic so far has been the COVID-19 vaccine, and while 2020 felt like a blur, its successor has not been all that eventful as of yet. As we approach our COVID-ersary and complete a year since the first GCC lockdown, we reflect back at what was a shock to say the least. And, now, with vaccines rolling out heavily, specially in the region, things are starting to look up.
In our previous article on vaccines, we predicted travel to become the biggest industry to improve post-COVID. The consensus was reached across all three of the markets analysed (KSA,KW & the UAE).
This time around, we look at something different. As previously mentioned, only 3% out of the 345K tweets analysed had mentions of a specific topic/industry; so the bigger question was, what do the rest talk about?
The Bigger Conversation.
So, to understand this data in the best way possible, we used Sila, to identify the most used words associated with vaccine-related tweets per country. This, helped us come up with the word clouds below.
The biggest population in our sample and with the most number of tweets recorded comes Saudi Arabia. As of recently, the vaccine has reached wider spread with a bigger number of centers becoming available and with a huge increase in turn-out, things are starting to look up.
Off the bat, questions about doses were the most re-ocurring. The conversations on twitter were focused on awareness, with most of them being questions related to the different types of vaccines, centers and registration processes. The KSA had no mentions of any industries or topics. A big hashtag that went trending at an earlier stage was “#هل_ستاخذون_لقاح_كورونا”, Arabic for “Will you be taking the COVID vaccine”. This possibly was an indication that word-of-mouth about the vaccine and previous experiences from vaccine takers had led the KSA’s sentiment towards the vaccine.
Twitter users shared their experiences and this led to a decent turnout in terms of participants. This later started another trendy hashtag “#أنا_سجلت”, Arabic for “I registered”. The increase in numbers came with comfort to those who were skeptical. This helped push the positive KSA sentiment towards the vaccine even higher.
The Saudi positive sentiment saw an increase of almost 500% between November and December. Noticeably, the peak was in December, with the launch of the vaccine program on the 17th of December 2020. Also, negative sentiment decreased by 79% between December and January as a bigger number of Saudi residents and locals started to get vaccinated.
Next up, Kuwait. Keeping in mind, Kuwait was the last country out of the trio to start vaccinating their population. It was first made available to locals and only recently to expats.
Right away, many of the words found in our Saudi catalogue can be found here too. Yep, first jab, second jab, Pfizer, the lot. But, here’s where it gets tricky. The most used word was actually “against” with just over 3% of the overall conversation (almost 10.9k tweets). The context here was the “fight against COVID” which led a surge of COVID-related news, eventually until the availability of the vaccine.
Words like side-effects, immunity, tests, age and effectiveness can also be found. This leads us to an interesting finding, the Kuwaiti market had been skeptical about the vaccine, or at least worried.
But, this skepticism has been short-lived. How do we know? We ran a sentiment analysis to identify positive and negative sentiment and the results were as follows.
The peak in negativity (and positivity) was noticed in December (vaccination was launched on the 24th of December), since then the negative sentiment had been decreasing (by 83%). Positive sentiment has also been on the rise post-January; however, the vaccine had only been available to Kuwaitis. As of now, almost 87% of Kuwaitis have been vaccinated, and starting the 22nd of February, it has been made available for expats living in Kuwait.
The positive sentiment is expected to rise and follow a similar pattern to the one noticed in Saudi with an increase in the number of vaccinated expats. This trend has already been noticed with the lead up towards the end of February.
At the moment of writing this article, over 5.5 million doses have been used with a rate of 56.19 doses per 100 people. The UAE is currently the global leader in rolling seven-day averages of doses offered per 100 people.
Similar to Kuwait’s word cloud, the UAE had the use of the word “against” the highest amount of times. More than 4.5k tweets mentioned the words “against” and “vaccine” in the same sentence. This however, does not mean that the population was against getting vaccinated, but these were news that dated all the way back to the initial testing phases. The UAE’s journey with vaccinations started way earlier and was the first country in the GCC to make it available to the public.
The UAE’s top used words were much more optimistic. Yep, there were many questions, we still do have many unanswered ones, but the focus was on ‘which vaccine to take?’ rather than ‘why take it?’ or ‘should I take it?’.
How did it work so well?
The UAE launched its vaccination campaign with even bigger campaigns which had been trending across the country. “Together we recover” and “I choose the vaccine” were two Arabic hashtags that took over all social media platforms in the UAE. The turn out started to increase with time, going from a 3-5 minute waits at centers to a month-in-advance appointments.
Word-of-mouth is quite powerful. People trust people and that is how word has spread, and so did positive sentiment.
The UAE’s positive sentiment peaked in January with the increase in number of people vaccinated. It is no surprise as the latter has been seen across both KSA and Kuwait too. The UAE has broken all types of global records when it comes to the vaccine; and with the increase in number of vaccinated people, the positivity continues to increase.
February has not been as noisy; noticeably, the UAE has been focused on supplying second doses to those who have gotten the first one. New vaccinations have been moved to some time in March as the UAE closes in on their goal of vaccinating 50% of the country’s population.
Implications to businesses
This can only be good news. Sentiment towards business has had its ups and downs since the beginning of 2021. The rise in number of cases has effected business sentiment negatively. However, we previously identified that bad news spreads, quickly. Now, with an increase in the number of GCC residents and locals that are accepting and getting vaccinated, the number of COVID cases is expected to drop drastically, surely and hopefully.
That can only mean good news from now on, as we patiently wait for the end of this horrifying nightmare.