Markets with higher levels of COVID-19 vaccinations – including the United States, United Arab Emirates, Spain, and Saudi Arabia – have reported better outlook on health and well-being, according to Cigna International’s annual 360 Well-Being Survey released on Thursday (17 Jun).

Cigna International surveyed 18,043 people aged 18 and above, in 21 markets across five components – family, financial, physical, social, and work – to uncover the latest trends and challenges for health and well-being.

The markets covered were Australia, Belgium, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Netherlands, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States.

It stated that over 1.7 billion shots of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered worldwide as of June this year.

The survey revealed among the markets with high vaccination rates – the United States, United Arab Emirates, Spain, and Saudi Arabia – have reported well-being scores exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

This is compared to markets with lower vaccination rates like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, which reported lower well-being scores, despite were not experiencing the surge in COVID-19 cases at the time of the survey.

“Even as we begin to see reasons for optimism, we are reminded that overcoming the pandemic and its impact on health and well-being requires a comprehensive global vaccination program and uptake.

“Our survey shows the pandemic has had a particularly negative impact on certain demographics and groups, and understanding this will be vital for businesses and policymakers alike,” said Jason Sadler, president of Cigna International.

Mental health ranked as “the most important influence” on personal health

According to the survey, 72 per cent of the respondents rate mental health as the most important influence on personal health and well-being, followed by physical health at 70 per cent.

Cigna International pointed out that the results indicated support for mental health issues “a critical component” for better health and well-being, whether that support is provided through health services companies, employers, or other means.

The use of virtual consultations to access mental health therapy and counselling services have also increased by 89 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic.

“When asked what most attracts them to virtual consultations, 49% mention the ability to access care 24/7, 42% say they feel it enables them to receive an early diagnosis and 41% say it enables them to be more open about their issues,” it stated.

Women hard hit during COVID-19 pandemic

Cigna International also found that women face higher levels of stress, with 85 per cent of female respondents said they are under stress, compared to 80 per cent of male respondents.

“Their manifestation of stress also tends to be worse, with disrupted sleep, feelings of depression and being more emotional all increasing for women, with men less likely to suffer from these symptoms,” it stated.

The survey also revealed that only 28 per cent of respondents feel confident in their ability to maintain their current standard of living, while 19 per cent said they feel excellent when asked if they have sufficient money for retirement.

The outlook, however, was poorest in women, with significant concerns regarding long-term saving specifically reported in the 18-24 age group and retirement planning among those aged 50 to 64.

“It is clear from these results, that communities and employers need to be looking at better ways to support women as we reopen our societies and adapt our support systems following the pandemic,” said Cigna International.

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