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Rethinking the Infodemic: Social Media and Offline Action in the COVID-19 Pandemic
In parallel with the COVID-19 pandemic, an infodemic—an information epidemic—challenges human populations across the planet. Often framed as an enemy to be conquered, infodemics endanger public health because inaccurate or erroneous information spreads quickly on a large scale, triggers potentially harmful behaviours, and generates stress and anxiety. Much infodemics research privileges the investigation of online information creation and circulation, as well as measures to counter erroneous information. Less examined, however, are the offline effects of an infodemic. This chapter surveys how infodemic analysts have evaluated interactions between online information and offline practice. It examines studies focusing on the harmful content of the online informational ecosystem and containment efforts, and then explores social sciences contributions, which broadly identify factors contributing to public interpretation and offline practices. We conclude with a concrete example of an anthropological study exploring the interplay of online information and offline practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
© © RIETI 2022
Doubt at the core: Unspoken vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers
Healthcare workers are a priority target population in current COVID-19 vaccination strategies because of their increased workplace exposure and contacts with potentially at-risk patients.1 In some European countries such as Belgium, Greece, and France,2 COVID-19 vaccination is now required for this group. However, studies show that a varying but often substantial proportion of healthcare workers are hesitant about receiving these vaccinations.3 This is extremely relevant for vaccination campaigns, as healthcare workers are among the most trusted sources of vaccine information and have a direct influence on the vaccination decisions of their patients and social contacts.4 Furthermore, insufficient vaccination uptake risks increasing COVID-19 infections, most likely leading to more hospitalizations and less available health staff, increasing the workload in hospitals, and thus reducing health system capacities to adequately respond to the epidemic. Health professionals often do not voice their vaccine-related concerns, particularly to colleagues, due to the institutional and societal pressures to vaccinate. We may frame this phenomenon as unspoken vaccine hesitancy.
Beyond the “information deficit model” – understanding vaccine-hesitant attitudes of midwives in Austria: a qualitative study
‘I’m not an anti-vaxer!’—vaccine hesitancy among physicians: a qualitative study
Studying infodemics from below: vaccine hesitancy in West Africa
Learning from the social science of vaccine deployment and administration- A poscast by Sonar-Global
Vaccines are in the news every day as some countries struggle to improve vaccination rates and others struggle to access vaccines. A social science approach is needed to further explore what actions can be taken to optimize vaccine acceptance during a disease outbreak, with immediate lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic. Social science can highlight histories of oppression, political-economic contexts that exacerbate inequality, and how communities experience injustice with implications for how individuals view, trust, and take up vaccines. In this Epicast, we explore social science perspectives on vaccine deployment through the lens of Project AViD: Anthropological Exploration of Facilitators and Barriers to Vaccine Deployment and Administration During Disease Outbreaks.
Bottom-up citizen engagement for health emergency and disaster risk management: directions since COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how syndemics and protracted crises increase the vulnerability of communities facing concurrent, cascading risks and complex secondary events that aggravate health risks and underlying burdens of infectious and non-communicable diseases. Epidemics start and end in communities, where citizens are often the first to observe changes in the environment and in animal health, and the first to be exposed to new or re-emerging pathogens. Local stakeholders have crucial roles in the prevention and control of disease transmission, and frequently develop systems of appropriate health and social care based on local knowledge. However, current approaches to disaster risk management often do not sufficiently recognise and engage community expertise.
The hygiene hypothesis, the COVID pandemic, and consequences for the humanmicrobiome
The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to affect the human microbiome in infected and uninfected individuals, having a substantial impact on human health over the long term.
Improving Pandemic Response: Global lessons and cultural insights from COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare stark differences in the effectiveness of public health responses across countries and communities. The United States has higher COVID-19 death rates than not only high-income peers such as Germany, Denmark, and Japan, but also lower-income countries such as Vietnam, Rwanda, and Uganda. This situation presents an opportunity to learn from global examples to improve pandemic responses, prepare for future health emergencies, and advance health equity.
A note on language
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No
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