Friday April 3, 2020

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

Can TB Vaccine Fight COVID-19? Here is the Answer

TB vaccine a potential new tool to fight COVID-19: Study

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vaccine
Researchers have found that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), could be a potential new tool in the fight against the disease. Pixabay

Examining how the COVID-19 has impacted different countries, researchers have found that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), could be a potential new tool in the fight against the disease.

The study that appeared in the pre-print repository medRxiv, proposed that national differences in COVID-19 impact could be partially explained by the different national policies respect to BCG childhood vaccination.

The BCG vaccine has existed for almost a century and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines.

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BCG vaccine has a documented protective effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in children.

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The BCG vaccine has existed for almost a century and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines. Pixabay

It has also been reported to offer broad protection to respiratory infections.

For the study, the researchers compared large number of countries BCG vaccination policies with the morbidity and mortality for COVID-19.

“We found that countries without universal policies of BCG vaccination (Italy, the Netherlands, the US) have been more severely affected compared to countries with universal and long-standing BCG policies,” said the study conducted by researchers from New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) College of Osteopathic Medicine in the US.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US has increased to 142,502, the highest in terms of infections globally, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).

The CSSE data showed that at least 34,026 people have died due to the disease in the country.

In Italy, which is one of the worst affected countries, 10,779 people have died due to COVID-19.

In this latest study on impact of BCG vaccination on COVID-19, researchers also found that countries that have a late start of universal BCG policy, for example, Iran had high mortality, consistent with the idea that BCG protects the vaccinated elderly population.

“There was a positive significant correlation between the year of the establishment of universal BCG vaccination and the mortality rate, consistent with the idea that the earlier that a policy was established, the larger fraction of the elderly population would be protected,” said the study.

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BCG vaccine has a documented protective effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in children. Pixabay

“For instance, Iran has a current universal BCG vaccination policy but it just started in 1984, and has an elevated mortality with 19.7 deaths per million inhabitants.

“In contrast, Japan started its universal BCG policy in 1947 and has around 100 times less deaths per million people, with 0.28 deaths. Brazil started universal vaccination in 1920 and also has an even lower mortality rate of 0.0573 deaths per million inhabitants,” the resulst showed.

Iran announced 2,901 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday as the total number of confirmed cases soared to 38,309. Also, the death toll from the disease reached 2,640 in Iran, while 12,391 patients have recovered.

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As the numbers of tuberculosis cases dropped in the late 20th century, several middle high and high-income countries in Europe dropped the universal BCG policy between years 1963 and 2010.

“The combination of reduced morbidity and mortality makes BCG vaccination a potential new tool in the fight against COVID-19,” the researchers concluded.

Also Read- Taking Care of Finances Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Gonzalo H. Otazu of NYIT is the corresponding author of the study.

The COVID-19 death toll in Europe climbed to over 21,000 out of more than 360,000 confirmed cases. (IANS)