Social media posts about COVID-19 and vaccines by infectious diseases influencers peaked in March

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, social media posts related to the virus from infectious diseases influencers increased significantly, with content peaking in March, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Using GlobalData’s Infectious Diseases Influencer database, Twitter posts relating to COVID-19 have been tracked and analyzed from January to May. In January and February, there were approximately 2,150 and 4,270 COVID-19 posts, respectively, which increased to over 8,800 in March. However, these decreased to 6,100 tweets related to COVID-19 in April from infectious diseases influencers, with a further decrease in May to approximately 5,270 posts.

Kathryn Whitney, MSc, Director of Thematic Analysis, comments: “One of the main topics that infectious diseases influencers discussed was vaccines and COVID-19. Between January and March, approximately 3–4% of posts mentioned vaccines. However, in both April and May, ‘vaccine’ was the fifth highest trending keyword used by infectious diseases influencers, behind ‘COVID-19,’ ‘coronavirus,’ ‘infections,’ and ‘health.’ It appeared in 6% of posts in April and 10% of posts in May.”

Top posts in April and May highlighted potential challenges in developing a COVID-19 vaccine, such as manufacturing and administration capabilities, low effectiveness, and managing the public’s expectations of when a vaccine will be available. There were also a number of posts on fighting vaccine misinformation and the danger posed by anti-vaxxers on the uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Whitney continues: “The race for an effective prophylactic COVID-19 vaccine continues, and according to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center Pipeline Database and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) dashboard, there are, as of 6 July, over 250 pipeline vaccine candidates. However, the development of a successful vaccine is going to face a number of challenges. Apart from efficacy and effectiveness concerns, companies will also have to ensure that vaccines developed on new platforms are suitable for large-scale manufacturing or that existing manufacturing facilities have the capacity to meet the expected demand. In addition, any transfer of technologies or changes to manufacturing processes will have to be done before the efficacy of a vaccine candidate has been established.

“Another challenge is the spread of false information about COVID-19 vaccines online and the rise of anti-vaxxers. In order for a vaccine to have a significant impact on reducing the spread of COVID-19, the majority of the population will need to be vaccinated. Social media companies need to take steps to ensure that harmful misinformation is removed from their platforms and that people have access to authoritative information from recognized and trusted sources.”

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