With the ongoing vaccination campaigns all around the world, groups of people are still fighting against vaccination. In such times, it is worth wondering where the most vaccine-hesitant people are located. According to an article published by Forbes, the US has administered 30% of the world’s vaccine doses, approximately 26.3 doses per 100 people; for example, in the 65 and above age group, 59% has received at least one dose, compared to among Western countries, where only the U.K has a better vaccination rate. In fact, the U.S is vaccinating at a faster pace than any other member of the European Union, and three times the E.U average.
Why is the E.U behind?
One of the main reasons why the European Union is ahead in the vaccination system can be attributed to a better supply in the U.S, due to the fact that E.U has faced unexpected manufacturing delays as well as a failure to procure sufficient inventory. Last year, the U.S and the U.K bought ten millions of doses of several vaccines prior to the authorization used; both nations wanted to make sure they secured a supply, so that once their regulatory authorities approved them, the initial doses would be immediately available. On the contrary, the E.U took a risk by implementing the “wait and see” approach, and when the European Medicines Agencies approved their use, there was little to no supply available.
Let’s talk about numbers
Without hesitation, the numbers are better in the U.S than in the E.U. Based on a policy brief that studied public views on Covid – 19 vaccination, published by RECOVER Social Sciences in collaboration with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, only 36% of France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine strongly agrees with the statement that vaccines are safe. Moreover, according to a separate report from France, it indicated that only 40% of their population want the covid vaccine. Every report suggests that a very large number of Europeans have serious qualms about the safety of vaccines and potential adverse effects. They are also concerned about the fast clinical development process as many have conveyed their mistrust in global and national authorities as well as in pharmaceutical companies, who some regard as solely pursuing financial interests.
In France and Germany, the approved AstraZeneca vaccine has an image problem as many are reluctant to take it, including healthcare staff. Inconsistent messaging has led to public’s confusion over the safety and efficacy of that specific vaccine. In February 2021, President Macron claimed that AstraZeneca was “almost uneffective” and that it wasn’t helful for the elderly; he then reversed himself and pleaded that people get vaccinated with whatever vaccine is available for them, but his strong position and the misinformation he conveyed caused damage.
A 2019 Eurobarometer survey found that about 48% of people in the EU believed that vaccines could often produce serious side-effects, 38% thought they could cause the diseases against which they protect, and 31% were convinced that they could weaken the immune system. All these beliefs are incorrect. Professor Heidi Larson, who runs the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, says vaccine scepticism is bound up with more general anxieties about the world. At least in Europe, its insidious rise is based on disinformation and is amplified by social media.
The Covid pandemic has generated a new strain of conspiracy theories. Enforced isolation, insecurity and uncertainty have even fed into Facebook stories about Bill Gates slipping microchips into vaccine shots. Trust in science is linked to trust in institutions such as the government. But extreme, anti-establishment politics includes populists who rant about the “evils” of vaccines. As in France and Italy, the hospitalizations with Covid – 19 are increasing again. For Europe, the rising of hesitation on vaccines is coming at the midst of the worst two weeks of the pandemic.
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