EU Barometer: 57% of Europeans unaware that antibiotics are ineffective against viruses

17 Jun 2016

Written by Longitude Prize Team

A majority of Europeans (57%) are unaware that antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, according to the European Commission’s Special Eurobarometer Survey published yesterday. The survey shows that knowledge on antimicrobials remains low, and clearly demonstrates that there exists a direct link between better information and lower consumption.

There has been a 6% decrease in antibiotic consumption in the last years among 28 European Union member states, even though some are still showing an increase in their consumption. Over a third of Europeans took antibiotics in the twelve months preceding the survey.


  • The vast majority (93%) of those surveyed obtain antibiotics from their health care provider.
  • 84% of Europeans are aware that unnecessary use of antibiotics makes them ineffective.
  • Information on the correct use of antibiotics has only reached a third of Europeans.
  • 57% of Europeans are unaware that antibiotics are ineffective against viruses.
  • 44% of Europeans are unaware that antibiotics are ineffective against colds and flu.
  • Use of antibiotics is higher among those with low levels of education (39%) and in worse economic circumstances (44%).
  • A majority of countries (16) have shown a decrease in antibiotic consumption since 2013.
  • In Spain, the proportion of those taking antibiotic has increased by 9%, and in Italy by 7%.


To raise awareness about AMR, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) founded the European Antibiotic Awareness Day which aims at providing a platform and support for national campaigns about prudent antibiotic use. Over the years, European Antibiotic Awareness Day, marked annually on 18 November, has developed into a platform of global reach, partnering up with many countries outside the EU as well as relevant stakeholders.