Vaccines mistrust a “global crisis” says Welcome report
A wide-ranging survey involving 140,000 people in 140 countries has revealed a worryingly high level of concern about the safety of vaccines, with scepticism highest in the developed world. While the report by the Wellcome Trust suggests that more than three-quarters of the world’s population agree that vaccines are safe and effective, that confidence dips sharply in high-income regions like Europe and North America. All told, roughly three quarters of people polled said they felt vaccines were safe in Northern Europe, but that proportion plummeted to 59% in Western Europe and 50% in Eastern Europe. In France, one in three people disagreed that vaccines are safe, the highest percentage for any country worldwide, with high levels of scepticism also seen in Gabon, Togo, Russia and Switzerland. In contrast, low-income regions tend to have much more confidence in immunisation, with highs of 95% of people in South Asia and 92% in Eastern Africa. The low confidence in some areas of the world is critically important, given that the World Health Organization says that reluctance to receive vaccines – known as vaccine hesitancy – is one of the top 10 threats to public health as once-conquered diseases such as measles stage a comeback. There has been a dramatic increase in measles cases in almost every region in the world, and UNICEF warned in March 2019 that cases were surging to “alarmingly high levels”.