The Emerging Narratives on the COVID-19 Vaccine
By: M2 Communications
As the race for the COVID-19 vaccine continues, it is essential to understand the sentiments of the people. Is the public willing to take a shot? Read on to find valuable insights we have gathered through narrative mining.
A Lack of Trust
Vaccine hesitancy is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a top ten global threat. According to anthropologist Heidi Larson, this issue is not a misinformation problem, but a relationship one. The individual’s refusal of vaccines despite their availability comes from a lack of trust in the processes, policies, and stakeholders involved in vaccine development.
In line with this, we conducted a survey of recent news articles using natural language processing and network analysis. We found that out of the 2,961 vaccine-related stories published between July 1 – August 19, safety concerns were discussed in 739 (24.96 percent) articles, while trust was discussed in 169 (5.71 percent). These stories revealed growing public distrust in the efforts of governments around the world to rapidly produce COVID-19 vaccines, directly impacting the overarching goal of rescuing a stagnating global economy while containing the spread of the virus.
Skepticism about vaccinations was already on the rise before the pandemic due to the Dengvaxia controversy in 2017, with this growing vaccine hesitancy being directly linked to the recent re-emergence of polio in the country. Without understanding and addressing the pressing issue of eroding trust in vaccines, building the public’s confidence in COVID-19 vaccine candidates will be a stern challenge.
Fear and Confusion
Narrative Mining: Forming Insights Through Narratives
Through a process called Narrative Mining, we are able to identify distinct themes, narratives, and storylines from a large mass of information such as news articles and social media posts. Essentially, it uncovers the three elements of a narrative:
Narrative mining is a process we’ve developed. It’s about identifying what stories need to be told and making sure those stories connect to a larger narrative. It includes strategizing, executing, measuring success, and improving your approach. Vaccine hesitancy and the re-emergence of other diseases are only a few of the storylines the team was able to pick up. To get an idea of other emerging narratives, you can contact us to check out a preview of the team’s preliminary report.