“As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity’s victory over smallpox is a reminder of what is possible when nations come together to fight a common health threat,” said Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), in a recent media briefing.
The use of vaccination for preventing diseases has had the most profound effect on human health and quality of life. Despite this, anti-vaccination movements are gaining popularity in recent years, especially in high income countries with historically near universal vaccine coverage, like the USA. Consequently, cases of diseases like measles have seen a 30% rise globally. Vaccine hesitancy has been declared one of the top ten threats to global health by the WHO in 2019. In times like these, what if science showed some added benefits of vaccination besides the obvious? A recent set of studies by a team of international researchers, led by those at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), Washington DC and New Delhi, have shown that vaccines can have other unintentional positive effects.
Human decision-making is critical to voluntary vaccination programs. In a recent study, published in PLoS Computational Biology, researchers from the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, have modelled the outcomes of such programs using game theory. Game theory is a branch of mathematics that studies how agents in an interaction make strategic decisions.