While pharmaceutical companies race to develop successful vaccines to end the coronavirus pandemic, anti-vaccination communities are predictably skeptical that they will get shots to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The anti-vax movement, which has challenged scientific institutions since the 19th Century, not only causes discomfort to those who believe in medicine, but 1.5 million preventable deaths in the world every year.
In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the anti-vax movement was identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the top ten global health threats.
Considering the health emergency the whole world is facing now, anti-vaxxers and vaccine hesitancy may cause even more repercussions, as they impact the efforts to finally get out of the current situation.
Nowadays – after a year of lockdowns around the globe – a vaccine has finally been found, the creation of herd immunity through vaccination is the key to end the pandemic.
Experts pinpointed that at least 70-80 per cent of the population should get the injection for it to be effective and eradicate the virus.
However, last November only 42 per cent of Britons declared they would take the vaccine for sure, and anti-vax campaigns are increasing the hesitancy.
The numbers are worrying in the European continent too.
Surveys reveal that only 13 per cent of the French population is sure about getting vaccinated, while in neighbouring Italy almost the 60 per cent.
In both countries, the percentage of Covid pro-vaxxers among nursing home workers, who are in contact with the vulnerable areas of the population on a daily basis, is only 20 per cent.
It is surprising that data reveal that the most skeptical population groups in western countries are young people and women – the ones who normally trust the scientific institution more and encourage prevention and healthy habits.
The reason could be the amount of conflicting information that is to be found online, and the misinformation spread by politicians too.
If not enough population gets vaccinated and the percentage goal to eradicate the virus is not reached, extreme measures might be put in place.
While in many countries compulsory vaccination is not yet considered as an option, it is rumoured that a vaccine-passport would be required not only to travel internationally, but to visit shops, concert venues, stadiums, theatres and museums as well.
Some tech-companies have already started developing apps to track Covid-19 vaccinations and tests, which might be used in the future to enter public spaces and travel.
Last December, Spain’s Health Minister already declared that the country will create a database which will include all those who refused to get vaccinated.
The data might be shared with the other European countries.
It is likely that the situation will become a lot clearer after the vaccine campaign for the most vulnerable will be carried to term.
By Jessica Piazzi