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Low levels of public trust during active 2018 Ebola outbreak - expert comment

New research published in The Lancet reveals low levels of public trust during violent conflict may have thwarted attempts to control Ebola.

A quarter of people surveyed during active 2018 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo believed the virus was not real, and would not accept vaccination against infection.

Responding to the findings, Professor Heidi Larson, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said:

“This is a valuable study that reveals even with high confidence in vaccines in general, there is lower confidence in the Ebola vaccine, with 641 out of 961 believing that the Ebola vaccine works and just over 60% saying that they would accept the vaccine, if offered. This should not be a surprise given that we still do not have one licensed Ebola vaccine, but only vaccines which are still in trial that are being used for emergency use.

“We cannot forget that this is a highly volatile and dynamic situation – a perfect storm of conflict, insurgency, distrust and a highly fatal, still evolving epidemic. As of this week there is a total of 1,000 Ebola cases since the start of the outbreak in August 2018. This is an evolving situation and the views of the public are as volatile as the epidemic itself.  The responses to the interviews today would likely be different than they were six months ago.”

The Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP) monitors public confidence in immunisation programmes, using information surveillance systems for the early detection of public concerns around vaccines.

The work of the VCP can determine the risk level of public concerns around vaccines and their potential to disrupt vaccine programmes, along with providing analysis and guidance for early response and engagement with the public to ensure sustained confidence in vaccines and immunisation.

The VCP also use a tool called the Vaccine Confidence Index to map confidence in immunisations globally.