Saturday July 20, 2019

Richer Countries Show Lower Trust in Vaccines

A global survey by the British health research charity Wellcome found that about 8 in 10 people

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vaccine preventable diseases
WHO reports Nigeria, India and Pakistan have the lowest vaccination rates. VOA

The majority of people worldwide think vaccines are safe but the doubters make it impossible to win the war on preventable illnesses.

A global survey by the British health research charity Wellcome found that about 8 in 10 people, or 79%, agreed that vaccines are safe, and 9 in 10 worldwide say their children have been vaccinated.

But in order to protect whole populations, immunization coverage rates must generally be above 90% or 95%, according to the World Health Organization.

The survey asked more than 140,000 people in 140 countries about their attitudes toward science and medicine.

Vaccines, Worldwide, Safe
The majority of people worldwide think vaccines are safe but the doubters make it impossible to win the war. Pixabay

It found that in wealthier nations, where rates of infectious diseases are low, people tend to be more skeptical about the safety of vaccines. While in poorer countries people believe vaccines to be safe, effective and important for children.

France led the list of countries with the most skeptics. A third of French people do not agree that immunization is safe, by contrast 98% of those in Bangladesh believe that vaccines are both safe and effective.

“And in some of these regions, greater scientific knowledge or levels of education is actually associated with less confidence in vaccines,” the report says. “This suggests that putting out more scientific information, or trying to educate more people, will not be enough to change minds on this issue.”

In North America, just 72% of those surveyed said vaccines were safe. The numbers were even lower in Europe — 59% in Western Europe and 40% in Eastern Europe.

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“Anxieties and public concerns about the safety of vaccines have always existed, but the rise of social media has allowed the spread of what UNICEF calls the ‘real infection of misinformation’ to much wider audiences,” the report says.

Vaccines have been credited for completely ridding the world of small pox and coming close to eliminating other diseases, such as polio.

But other illnesses are making a resurgence. In the U.S. alone, the number of measles cases this year has exceeded a thousand.

“I guess you could call it the ‘complacency effect,'” said Wellcome’s Imran Khan, who led the study. (VOA)

Next Story

Regulatory, Industry Bodies Say Salt Brands Safe to Consume

American West Analytical Laboratories also said that AWAL does not communicate any information to third parties (e.g., news agencies) concerning work performed at our laboratory without written permission from our primary client

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iodized salt
Salt evaporation ponds Tamil Nadu India Salines de Marakkanam Inde. Wikimedia Commons

As allegations and concerns have cropped up over the safety of major Indian salt brands, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have refuted the concerns that the major salt brands contain alarming level of potassium ferrocyanide.

The FSSAI tweeted: “Ferrocyanides are used as anti-caking agents in processing of salt and are safe for consumption. Test reports quoted in media have shown its presence well within limit of 10 mg/kg, as specified by FSSAI. This is less than 14 mg/kg specified by Codex (International Food Standards).”

IMA tweeted that it stands with FSSAI’s statement. Concerns rose after Shiv Shankar Gupta, Chairman of Godhum Grains & Farm Products last week claimed that potassium ferrocyanide levels were alarmingly high in reputed Indian salt brands.

According to Gupta, a test by American West Analytical Laboratories (AWAL) has revealed that potassium ferrocyanide levels are an alarmingly high in Sambhar Refined Salt at 4.71 mg per kg, at 1.85 mg per kg in Tata Salt and 1.90 mg per kg in Tata Salt Lite.

tata salt
Tata Salt among India’s most trusted brands, is safe for consumption. Flickr

However, American West Analytical Laboratories in a statement dated July 1 said that “AWAL does not report opinions concerning analytical data” and also “does not analyze or report potassium ferrocyanide”.

American West Analytical Laboratories also said that AWAL does not communicate any information to third parties (e.g., news agencies) concerning work performed at our laboratory without written permission from our primary client.

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Tata Salt in a statement said that its product is safe and harmless. “The recent allegations made against the purity and health benefits of Tata Salt are totally false and misleading and being made by vested interests. India is one among many countries including the USA, European Union, Australia and New Zealand that have allowed the use of PFC in salt,” it said.

“The level allowed by FSSAI, an independent statutory authority, under Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the lowest among these jurisdictions (10 mg per kg). Codex Alimentarius, the most authoritative guidelines on food safety has declared APFC Asafe for consumption at levels of 14 mg per kg. The use of PFC is allowed in salt and is safe and harmless to the human body when consumed as per approved levels. This is clearly declared in the list of Tata Salt ingredients in a manner prescribed by the regulations,” it added. (IANS)