There is no full agreement on the safety of vaccines across six European countries, even though the World Health Organisation agrees that vaccines are safe and closely monitors their safety, according to an international survey released today.
Around 20 % people think it is false that nearly all scientists agree vaccines are safe, while 11% say they don’t know. 69% of people think that nearly all scientists agree.
People from the UK and Ireland are the ones with the highest value on this measure while Poland is at the bottom of the list – only 62% of people think this statement is true. A slightly larger majority in Norway (70%), Italy (68%) and Germany (67%) think that the science community agrees on vaccine safety.
The EU-funded project PERITIA (Policy, Expertise and Trust) released today the second set of data results of a major international survey on trust in government and expertise. The study is based on survey data from over 12,000 people across the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Norway and Poland.
The six countries were selected to reflect a range of different contexts across factors such as location within Europe, population size, GDP levels, political structure and levels of trust in institutions, as measured in other studies.
The research, which was carried out by the Policy Institute at King’s College London, also reveals public views on vaccination and levels of belief in various Covid conspiracies:
- 14% of people in the surveyed countries think that the symptoms most people blame on coronavirus appear to be linked to 5G network radiation. Despite this, there is no evidence to link the symptoms of coronavirus to 5G network radiation.
- 33% of people in the six surveyed countries think that the government is exaggerating the number of deaths from coronavirus. At the upper end of the range, 43% of people in Poland believe their government is doing this, while at the other, 24% in Norway believe theirs is inflating the number of Covid deaths.
- In Poland, 81% of people are worried about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic for them personally. By contrast, in the UK, 66% of people are worried about this. The least worried are those in Norway, where 49% of people are concerned about the pandemic’s impact on their personal lives.
- 75% of people in Italy say they always stick to coronavirus restrictions in contrast to 54% of people in Poland. 58% of people in the UK say that they always stick to all coronavirus restrictions put in place by government. This is the second-lowest rate of compliance among the surveyed countries.
- 65% of people in the UK say that they always wear a mask in public places. That figure is substantially higher in Italy (84%) and Ireland (78%). Similar levels of non-compliance with wearing masks are also expressed in Norway and Poland. However, a significant majority of people in all countries at least sometimes wear masks in public places. In the UK, 85% of people sometimes wear masks in public, with only 6% saying that they would never do this.
The findings from this research were produced as part of PERITIA, an EU-funded project that aims to help citizens and policymakers understand trust in science and identify trustworthy expertise.
Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said:
“Despite the pandemic lasting much longer than many anticipated, this has not been enough time to convince everyone of certain established facts about Covid-19 and the response to the virus. Across both the UK and other European countries included in this study, there is a stubborn minority who still question not only the scientific consensus on vaccine safety but also government reporting of Covid deaths, while around one in six still believe the debunked conspiracy theory of a link between 5G and coronavirus. Building trust in expertise, so that people are able to recognise and accept reliable information, is crucial during a public health crisis and should be a priority for policymakers and scientists if we’re to better deal with the threats of the future.”
Read the full study.