How fear affects coronavirus transmission

How fear affects coronavirus transmission

A team of US researchers has developed Triple Contagion, a new mathematical model to insert fears among the variables that can influence the progress of an epidemic

(image: Pixabay) Fear of disease and fear vaccines. We witness daily the clash between those who claim that one is more unfounded than the other, but beyond the exhausting controversies there is an incontrovertible fact: both are factors that contribute to influencing the progress of the coronavirus epidemic (and not Alone). Well aware of this, a team of researchers from the Nyu School of Global Public Health has developed Triple Contagion, a new mathematical model that, using its own knowledge of psychology and neuroscience, inserts fear into the equation to predict the emergence of any new waves. The research is published in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface.

Fears and behaviors

Fear, the authors of the research explain, is an engine that drives human behavior. It is the fear of the disease that pushes many to keep their distance from others and to continue wearing masks, as well as to be vaccinated. All factors that contribute to curb the transmission of the coronavirus.

Fear, however, is not a constant, but can vary over time and, in a certain sense, change faction. So when the fear of disease decreases (because for example the circulation of the virus has been reduced) people tend to follow the containment rules less, and, if the pool of infected and susceptible is still considerable, it is like pouring gasoline on a fire. that is extinguishing: the flames flare up, a resurgence of the disease presents itself. The same effect is obtained when the fear of vaccines increases (perhaps due to bad information and fake news).

Triple Contagion

The model developed by US researchers for the first time has coupled these psychological dynamics to standard epidemiological dynamics to predict the course of the epidemic, revealing behavioral mechanisms that lead to persistence pathogen and the emergence of new waves.

The equation underlying Triple Contagion therefore contains both the percentage of the population already vaccinated and the vaccination rate and behavioral factors, such as the percentage of the population that he fears the disease and the one who fears the vaccine. It also takes into account the fluctuations and interactions of fears, which according to certain events can spread among people or diminish, modeling behaviors.

"Neuroscience suggests that fear itself can be contagious, but also that fear tends to vanish or decay ”, explained Joshua Epstein, epidemiologist at the Nyu School of Global Public Health and one of the creators of Triple Contagion. "In our model, people can overcome their fears about the disease and the vaccine, taking into account both the time, when the prevalence of the disease decreases, and the interactions with others who have recovered from Covid-19 or who have received the vaccine and had minimal side effects ”.

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Coronavirus Neuroscience Coronavirus vaccine globalData.fldTopic = "Coronavirus, Neuroscience, Coronavirus vaccine"

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