Central Asia in Facing a Global Challenge: Society's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. Botagoz Rakisheva

The paper is devoted to identifying general and specific features in the pandemic perception, assessment, and response of the population Central Asian countries (also includes Georgia): Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The year 2020-the time of the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus around the world - has challenged all of humanity. The pandemic has affected all aspects of public and private life of people and States. It became important for societies to understand the complexity of the situation, support measures to combat the spread of the virus, a positive attitude to vaccination and the formation of collective immunity. Universal vaccination is an important mechanism to overcome the pandemic. Providing affordable and effective immunization programs is essential to preserve the health of the population and mitigate the impact of the coronacrisis on everyday life and the economy. CAREC Institute (www.carecinstitute.org) together with the Public Opinion Research Institute (Kazakhstan, www.opinions.kz), with the support of the Asian Development Bank, conducted a public opinion survey on immunization strategies in selected CAREC countries, public attitudes towards measures to control the spread of the virus, and impact assessments.
The sociological project was conducted in seven CAREC member countries working to address this issue- Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The subjects of the study were citizens aged 18 and older, permanently residing in the country. 1,000 respondents were interviewed in each country. The total number of respondents was 7,000 respondents. The sample was representative in terms of the main socio-demographic parameters-gender, age, nationality, place of residence. Field work was carried out in the period from December 2020 to January 2021 before the start of mass vaccination in all countries.
The results show that in all seven countries surveyed, there is a significant lack of information about the need for vaccination. An interesting result is, for example, that in all countries, the "I want to protect my family" argument for vaccination is much more important to respondents than the "I want to protect myself" argument. The surveys were conducted to provide information to Governments to properly design their distribution policies, taking into account public concerns.