Antivaxx campaigns have a long history. Anger over compulsory smallpox vaccinations in Britain and the US led to huge protests in the late 19th century. But recently opposition has been turbocharged by fears and conspiracy theories spread on social media. Governments’ efforts to get a grip on the pandemic risk being hampered by hostility to Covid-19 jabs.

The French are the world’s biggest refuseniks. Only 40% want a Covid-19 vaccine. Nowhere is there more anxiety about vaccine safety generally, according to the Wellcome Global Monitor. The scepticism — also applied to vaccines’ efficacy — is widespread, regardless of education, age and gender...

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