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Scientists raise alarm over signs of vaccine ‘hesitancy’

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PARIS: Scientists called for urgent action to improve public trust in immunisation as research suggested sizeable minorities in some nations may be reluctant to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

With few effective treatments and no cure for the coronavirus, companies and governments are racing to develop vaccines in a bid to arrest the pandemic.

But there is increasing concern that “vaccine hesitancy” is also on the rise, with misinformation and mistrust colouring people’s acceptance of scientific advances.

In a new study published Tuesday in Nature Medicine, researchers in Spain, the United States and Britain surveyed 13,400 in 19 countries hit hard by Covid-19 and found that while 72 per cent said they would be immunised, 14 per cent would refuse and another 14 per cent would hesitate.

When extrapolated across whole populations this could amount to tens of millions of people who may avoid vaccination, the authors said.

“These findings should be a call to action for the international health community,” said co-author Heidi Larson, who runs the Vaccine Confidence Project at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2020

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