A NEW interactive map shows which countries across the globe could be least likely to accept a Covid-19 vaccine.
Shockingly, 80 per cent of the antivaxxers are in Europe – with just over half of people in the UK agreeing vaccines are safe.
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Research teams at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London, the University of Washington, and Antwerp University in Belgium put together data from nearly 300,000 people in 149 countries, identifying vaccine “hesitancy hotspots”.
In Ukraine, a whopping three quarters of the population think vaccines can actually damage your health.
And in Albania and Lithuania just one in five people think the jabs are safe.
It comes after the World Health Organisation declared “vaccine hesitancy” one of the top ten global health threats in 2019.
But in America, Canada and Lithuania more than 60 per cent of people surveyed trusted Government vaccination schemes.
The researchers who put together the data are urging scientists and public health bosses the world over to do more to build public trust in vaccination programmes.
They said: “[Experts need] to do much better at building public trust in the safety of vaccination, particularly with the hope of a Covid-19 vaccine.”
The revelation comes amid desperate hopes from world leaders of a coronavirus vaccine, with many believing a jab is the world’s only hope of ridding the population of deadly coronavirus.
The data was gathered from 290 nationally represented surveys between 2015 and 2019 – so it does not show if opinions have changed in the wake of the global pandemic.
Poland was one of the worst affected countries, experiencing a dip from 64 per cent to 53 per cent confidence in the jabs between November 2018 and December 2019.
However, in some European countries, confidence rose.
In France, the number of people putting their faith in vaccines rose from 22 per cent in 2018 to 30 per cent in 2019.
But in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Serbia the scientists saw “substantial increases” in people who “strongly disagree” that vaccines are safe.
Meanwhile in Azerbaijan disagreement rose by 15 per cent in two years.
Researchers also noted the dip in confidence aligned with rising political instability and “religious extremism,” describing it as a “worrying trend”.
The worst hit country was Indonesia, where public trust fell by 14 per cent between 2015 and 2019.
Scientists have theorised Indonesia – a Muslim country – could have been strongly influenced by Islamic faith leaders who questioned the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
The findings, published in medical journal The Lancet, questioned how the data could affect distribution of a potential coronavirus vaccine.
Research leader Heidi Larson from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: “It is vital with new and emerging disease threats such as the Covid-19 pandemic that we regularly monitor public attitudes to quickly identify countries and groups with declining confidence, so we can help guide where we need to build trust to optimise uptake of new life-saving vaccines”.
The London team are now working on gathering data on attitudes towards a coronavirus vaccine, should trials prove succesful.
The scientists are gathering data from the UK – but also worldwide.
Dr Larson said attitudes on British soil were variable, with distrust up from 5 per cent in March to 15 per cent in June.
She said the data appears to reflect how public opinion changes with the virus’s imminent threat – as trust dipped depending on the number of daily deaths.