What Countries Have the Biggest Anti-vax Movement?
Some things are loved all over the world, but others are rejected. For example, the fact that vaccines prevent disease and epidemics is expected to be accepted around the world, but this is not the case: many countries and cultures view vaccines (all vaccines, not just COVID-19) with great skepticism. So, which are the most “anti-vax” countries in the world in this regard? We answer this question in this article.
It Is Not Limited to COVID-19 Vaccine
Most people became aware of the existence of anti-vax movements with the COVID-19 vaccine, but this “belief” goes back much further. There have always been groups in every country in the world who were against vaccines and thought they didn’t “work”. Contrary to popular belief, it had nothing to do with education level or economic prosperity. The first thing that comes to mind is that anti-vaccine views will be more common in countries with lower education levels, right? Most of us think that anti-vax movements are unique to third-world countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. However, this is not true: anti-vax movements have always been popular in European countries.
Let’s continue with the data. We have data for 2018, that is, before COVID-19. According to these, the countries with the most common anti-vax movements in 2018, relative to the population, were:
- France – 33%
- Gabon – 26%
- Togo – 25%
- Russia – 24%
- Switzerland – 22%
- Armenia – 21%
- Austria – 21%
- Belgium – 21%
- Iceland – 21%
- Burkina Faso – 20%
- Haiti – 20%
The numbers on the right show the percentage of anti-vaccination beliefs in the general population. So, for example, in France in 2018, 33% of the population did not “believe” in vaccines. Amazing list, isn’t it? You would indeed expect some countries to be on this list, but more than half are still European countries. Again, this list shows the pre-COVID-19 situation. In other words, vaccines are generally rejected (regardless of disease) in these countries.
The Situation After COVID-19
So, what is the post-COVID-19 situation? In this regard, we do not have very detailed data because global research on anti-vaccine movements has not yet been conducted after COVID-19. Only in some countries, these studies were conducted, and according to their results, we can say that European countries still make up the majority of the list, but new countries are also joining it. Before we continue, it should be noted that this new list is specifically for the COVID-19 vaccine. This means, in some regions, only the COVID-19 vaccine is rejected, not all vaccines.
- Russia – 58%
- France – 41%
- Japan – 39%
- Switzerland – 38%
- Ukraine – 30%
- United States – 30%
- United Kingdom – 16%
Do not think of these as absolute numbers, as most date back to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these rates are estimated to have decreased further over time. But the list points to a rather surprising conclusion: almost all of those against vaccines, particularly the COVID-19 vaccine, are from developed countries. Do you know which two countries are where more than 90% of the population believes and trusts all vaccines? Bangladesh and India.
The Reason for Anti-Vax Movements
It is clear that the reason for the anti-vax movements is not the economic status or the level of education, so what is this reason? We have quite detailed data for France, so let’s explain using this country as an example. There are three main reasons for the anti-vaccine movements in developed countries:
- Distrust in the state;
- Passion for personal liberty;
- Historical failings of the government;
- Controversial doctors.
In the case of France, distrust of the state and passion for personal freedoms come from the country’s past. The same can be said for the United States. In countries that have won their personal freedoms by rebelling against kings and churches, restrictions and compulsions that concern the entire population are always met with backlash. In such a social and cultural environment, the claim that vaccines will be “used to control the population” spreads very quickly and finds supporters.
The government’s past failures also play an important role in opposition to the vaccine. For example, in France, 600 million Euros were spent in 2009 to vaccinate the entire population for H1N1 “swine flu”, but all the equipment purchased was wasted because almost no one wanted to be vaccinated.
Controversial doctors are something that can be found in every country: some doctors continue to claim that vaccines are ineffective, and they have found their own “cure”. For example, a doctor named Didier Raoult in France claimed that he treated the coronavirus with hydroxychloroquine and claimed that there was no need for a vaccine. For anti-vaccine supporters, such statements are a flame for their claims. It’s like with gambling – some people condemn it, but others quite enjoy playing slots online at casino GGBet or similar platforms. In short, anti-vaccination is not something that can be judged solely on educational level or political views: the real reason lies much deeper.