Sunday September 15, 2019

Public mistrust of vaccines likely to cause outbreak of diseases like measles: Researchers

Europe showed the lowest level of confidence, driven largely by France where 41 percent of the population questions the safety of vaccines

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Representational Image of Scientist working on Vaccines. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Public mistrust of vaccines is causing the outbreak of diseases like measles, according to researchers.

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health in Singapore questioned 66,000 people across 67 countries to discover their views on whether vaccines are important, safe, effective and compatible with their religious beliefs.

Lack of Confidence in Vaccines. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Vaccines. Wikimedia

People in southeast Asia showed the highest level of confidence in vaccines, with Africa second.

Yellow fever

The survey comes as a major yellow fever vaccination program is under way in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.

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An outbreak of the disease has killed hundreds of people. The World Health Organization aims to vaccinate more than 15 million people in both countries.

“If everyone agrees to be vaccinated, we can eradicate yellow fever from our country,” said Mosala Mireille, one of the head doctors overseeing the program in Kinshasa.

Europe showed the lowest level of confidence, driven largely by France where 41 percent of the population questions the safety of vaccines.

Scares dent public confidence

Doctor Heidi Larson from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says recent high-profile press coverage in France of vaccine scares has dented public confidence.

“Anxieties about links between Hepatitis B [vaccines] and multiple sclerosis several years ago, scientifically deemed unlinked, but still caused anxiety,” Larson said. “There still is today concerns about side effects related to the HPV vaccine, again not scientifically confirmed.”

Mistrust in France was also driven by the response to the H1N1 flu outbreak fears in 2009, when the government spent $1.4 billion on 94 million doses of the vaccine. The majority were sold off or destroyed.

Larson fears the consequences of that mistrust.

“We will get some combination of influenza strains that will be very fatal,” Larson said. “And if we have such poor compliance with a pandemic vaccine in the future, I would be very worried about that.”

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Researchers warn that decreases in confidence can lead to people refusing vaccines, which in turn can trigger disease outbreaks. But the study found a high level of global support for vaccinating children against disease. (VOA)

  • Ayushi Gaur

    An issue to be taken seriously

Next Story

Scientists Create Two Embryos of Nearly Extinct Northern White Rhino

Today we achieved an important milestone on a rocky road which allows us to plan the future steps in the rescue program of the northern white rhino

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Scientists, Embryos, Extinct
FILE - The last two known female northern white rhinos are fed carrots by a ranger in their enclosure at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya, Aug. 23, 2019. VOA

Scientists have created two embryos of the nearly extinct northern white rhino, part of an effort to pull the species back from the brink.

“Today we achieved an important milestone on a rocky road which allows us to plan the future steps in the rescue program of the northern white rhino,” said Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany.

The institute is part of a team of international scientists and conservationists racing to save the rare giants.

The eggs were harvested from the last two living females. They were injected with the frozen sperm of dead males.

Scientists, Embryos, Extinct
Scientists have created two embryos of the nearly extinct northern white rhino, part of an effort to pull the species back from the brink. Pixabay

The embryos will be transferred into a surrogate mother, a southern white rhino.

The conservationists hope to create a herd of at least five animals that can be introduced back into the wild in Africa.

The last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died last year at age 45. He gained international fame in 2017 when he was named the “The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World” on the Tinder dating app as part of fundraising effort.

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“Five years ago, it seemed like the production of a northern white rhino embryo was almost an unachievable goal, and today we have them,” said Jan Stejskal, director of communication at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, where the last two surviving females were born. (VOA)