Vaccination strategies against COVID-19 and the diffusion of anti-vaccination views

Rafael Prieto Curiel, Humberto González Ramírez

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Received date: 19th October 2020

Misinformation is adjusted to fit distinct narratives and propagates rapidly through social networks. Pandemic-deniers and people who oppose wearing face masks have already been a substantial aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a potential vaccine for COVID-19, different anti-vaccine narratives will be created and adopted by large population groups with critical consequences. Here, we analyse epidemic spreading and the impact of different vaccination strategies, measured with the average years of life lost, in distinct network topologies assuming full adherence to vaccine administration. Then, using a similar diffusion model as the one used in epidemics, we consider the spread of anti-vaccine views in the network, which are adopted based on a persuasiveness parameter of the views. Results show that even if anti-vaccine narratives have a small persuasiveness, a large part of the population will be rapidly exposed to them. Assuming a uniform probability of adoption after being exposed, more central nodes in the network are more exposed and are therefore more likely to adopt them. Anti-vaccine views could have a significant cost not only on those who share them since the core social benefits of a limited vaccination strategy (network disruptions and slowing the spread of the disease) are substantially shortened.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on a preprint server, which is currently undergoing peer review at Scientific Reports. The findings have yet to be thoroughly evaluated, nor has a decision on ultimate publication been made. Therefore, the results reported should not be considered conclusive, and these findings should not be used to inform clinical practice, or public health policy, or be promoted as verified information.

Scientific Reports

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