Red Cross chief calls for fight against ‘false news’ of COVID-19 vaccine

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The head of the world’s largest humanitarian network urges governments and institutions to tackle the ‘fake news’ about COVID-19 vaccines that have become ‘a second pandemic’ and to start building the trust of communities around the world on the critical importance of immunizing people.
Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a virtual briefing to the UN Correspondents Association on Monday that “to overcome this pandemic, we must also conquer the parallel pandemic of mistrust ”.

He said there was “growing hesitation about vaccines in general, and a COVID vaccine in particular” around the world, pointing to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University in 67 countries that found that vaccine acceptance declined dramatically in most countries from July to October. year.

In a quarter of the countries, Rocca said, the study found that the acceptance rate for a coronavirus vaccine was near or below 50%, with Japan dropping from 70% to 50% acceptance and the France by 51%. at 38% acceptance.

He stressed that the lack of confidence “is by no means a Western phenomenon”, citing research carried out by the federation in recent months in eight African countries – Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Lesotho and Kenya – who have shown a decrease in the perceived risk of infection with COVID-19.

A growing number of people have indicated that the virus is not affecting young people or Africans, that the disease does not exist now but has existed and that the pandemic is over, he said. “In several African countries, we have seen a common skepticism towards vaccines in general, the common belief being that foreigners are using Africa as a ‘proving ground’.”

Surprisingly, Rocca said, some generally vulnerable and marginalized groups are not even aware of the pandemic, indicating a federation survey in Pakistan that found 10% of those polled were unaware of COVID-19.

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