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BSI response to the Wellcome Trust survey on global attitudes to science and health

19 June 2019

The Wellcome Trust has carried out a global study into public attitudes towards science and health and the findings have now been published. The Wellcome Global Monitor surveyed over 140,000 people from more than 140 countries throughout 2018 as part of the Gallup World Poll. The findings provide robust evidence on how public attitudes vary across different demographic groups and countries, and the study includes a chapter on vaccine confidence worldwide.

In response, the British Society for Immunology has released the following statement:

Professor Arne Akbar, President of the British Society for Immunology, said:

“Today’s publication of the Wellcome Trust's survey on global attitudes towards science and health presents robust findings on how much people trust science and who they rely on for health advice, including how their relationship with science and health varies by demographic and socio-economic groups. Globally, the survey indicates a high-level of trust in scientists and in health advice from healthcare professionals.

“The global attitudes to vaccines are positive, with 79% of people agreeing that vaccines are safe and 84% agreeing that they are effective. However, these figures are lower in certain parts of the world, such as Western Europe and Eastern Europe. It is not clear why this is the case and this needs to be looked at in more detail. Regional results are a concern in some places where confidence levels do not meet the thresholds required for herd immunity. Working with our European partners we are establishing a Vaccine Task Force that will shine more light on the challenges around vaccine uptake and public views.

“The good news is that the findings show a positive relationship between high trust in healthcare professionals and scientists, and attitudes towards vaccines. The survey provides an improved understanding of public perception and trust in science and health, which is essential to increase public engagement and to tackle major health challenges such as low vaccination rates.

“Vaccinations save lives and are one of the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. We can learn from the findings in the Wellcome Global Monitor, and from specific regions that are performing well, to increase vaccine uptake by making vaccines accessible and providing parents with reliable, evidence-based information about the huge health benefits that vaccines confer.”

You can download a full copy of the report from the Wellcome Trust's website