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)

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 

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

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

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.

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

Retweet counts by narrative cluster

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

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?'.

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