People in Europe have the lowest levels of trust in vaccines, according to a global survey of public attitudes toward health and science published yesterday.
The study found that people living in high-income countries have the lowest confidence in vaccines, a result that ties in to the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, in which people refuse to believe in the benefits of vaccinations or claim that the treatment is dangerous.
And France has the lowest levels of confidence, according to the survey devised by British medical charity Wellcome Trust and conducted by Gallup World Poll between April and December 2018.
A third (33 percent) of French people do not agree that immunization is safe, according to the poll of more than 140,000 people 15 and older across 144 countries.
Globally, 79 percent of people agreed that vaccines are safe and 84 percent said they were effective. On the other end of the spectrum from France, Bangladesh and Rwanda had the highest levels of confidence in vaccines, with almost 100 percent in both countries agreeing they were safe, effective and important for children to have.
“I think we expected that general trend, because where we have seen that skepticism and concern about vaccines, that tends to be in more developed countries,” Imran Khan, Wellcome’s head of public engagement, who led the study, told AFP.
“But I think the extent of the difference is surprising and some of those numbers were really startling.”
The lowest confidence levels in relation to vaccines were in Western Europe where more than a fifth (22 percent) of people disagree that vaccines are safe, and in Eastern Europe where 17 percent disagreed that vaccines are effective.
An estimated 169 million children missed out on the vital first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, according to a UN report issued in April.
In the US alone, the number of cases of the disease this year has exceeded a thousand, according to the latest official figures.