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COVID Vaccines: How is the public view shaping up and what are the implications for policy makers?

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Effective vaccines are here.   The fate of economies, healthcare systems, and industries rely on getting enough people vaccinated. People - and their will to take the vaccine - are the elephant in the room.  Will conspiracy-related narratives impede vaccine uptake and stall economic recovery?  This report leverages AI-based narrative analytics to decode vaccine perceptions, and changes in those perceptions, through massive unstructured datasets from social media (in the case of the below example, Twitter)

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An overview of 50,000 tweets regarding vaccines

Interact directly with the content below, by hovering over the dots

Conspiracy theories peaked in May, yet have remained near 10% of all vaccine tweets since September 2020 

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Tweets mentioning ‘gates’ are heavily concentrated in the conspiracy narrative, sparked by Bill Gates’ comments in a Reddit forum

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Gates’ remarks on digital certificates to monitor vaccine compliance were interpreted as an effort to implant a ‘chip’. “Chip” and “microchip” mentions are noted below, concentrated in both the ‘faith/belief’ cluster as well as the ‘powerful conspiring’ narrative

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In QAnon circles, the chip is seen as the ‘mark of the beast,’ referencing the book of Revelations.  “Beast” mentions are noted below and are heavily clustered within the faith/belief narrative. This quantifies the weaponization of conspiracies through links to some religious groups.

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The data shows that political and conspiracy narrative get more relative traction (in terms of retweets) than Tweets within other narrative themes 

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Retweet counts by narrative cluster

Political narratives peaked just before the US election and have dropped off quickly since then

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Meanwhile, as the vaccine becomes a reality rather than a mere possibility, the narrative is shifting from political, conspiracy, and religious narratives to more practical considerations - and the central question of  'do I take it?'.

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For those who are looking to encourage high vaccine uptake, the implication is clear - focus on the personal and practical considerations:

 

  • Get friends to tell friends they got it:  make it real.

  • Frame the need in the context of personal practicalities, not the science or the broader landscape

  • Don't expect scientific or political arguments to change minds

  • Model behavioural data against narrative tracking to build a stronger predictive understanding of how the population engages with emerging vaccines