Special Initiatives

19 to Zero takes a multimodal approach to understanding, engaging with, and shifting public perception towards COVID-19. Our team has a wide range of activities focused on encouraging safe behaviours and vaccinations, addressing misinformation on social media, and empowering Canadians and health professionals to take action.

Nudge Unit: Behavioral Economics

The 19 to Zero Nudge Unit uses behavioral science to encourage COVID-safe behavior and vaccination uptake. We use “nudges” - small changes in framing or situations that can lead to disproportionate changes in behavior – to help people make better choices that will limit the spread of COVID-19. The Nudge Unit is led by Dr. Kirsten Cornelson, a Professor of Economics at Notre Dame University. Her area of research focuses on behavioral economics and behavior change.

The Nudge Unit is currently focusing on two projects to encourage vaccine uptake.

The effect of diversity in vaccine communications

In this project, we examine whether we can improve trust in public health messaging by changing who delivers the message. In the laboratory, we showed participants information on the development and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and randomly varied the race, gender, or political orientation of the scientist delivering the message. Our goal is to understand whether people are more willing to trust scientific messages when the scientist “looks like them”, or when a more diverse group of experts show agreement on an issue.

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Image by Francisco Venâncio

Using social networks to combat online misinformation

We plan to recruit health care workers to engage with and debunk misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine on social media. In doing so, we will identify best practices for combating misinformation in real-time.

Social Media Analytics

The 19 To Zero Social Media Analytics team uses machine learning and natural language processing algorithms to track COVID-19 behaviours and vaccine sentiment on social media across North America.

COVID-19 Network Analysis Maps

Conversations on COVID-19 vaccination on social media are structured as social networks. Through social media network analysis, we can understand better how vaccine hesitant and confident groups interact with each other, identify key influencers in each group, and isolate more easily the extent of vaccine hesitancy conversations on digital platforms, such as Twitter.

The figure shown above reproduces a retweet network of COVID-19 vaccination conversation on twitter between April 10, 2021 and April 16, 2021. Overall, this network map represents 771,748 individual accounts and 1,592,188 specific tweets. 

 

Through community detection algorithms, we can parse the structure of these networks. Here we find that accounts most associated with vaccine hesitant accounts (in red) represent approximately 15-25% of the conversation. Vaccine confident networks appear to structure itself around national groups: US, UK, India, etc.

COVID-19 Social Media Trends

Using deep-learning modeling of natural language processing, we analyze on a weekly basis the nature of the conversations in vaccine hesitant and vaccine confident networks. We find, in general and consistently since November 2020, that vaccine hesitancy is fueled by mistrust in institutions, government, pharmaceutical companies, health authorities, highlight the deeply political nature of COVID-19 vaccination. Concern for vaccine safety is usually the second most important topic. 

Vaccine confident networks are mostly concerned about vaccine logistics, often criticizing institutions for the slow roll out, or lack of vaccine accessibility, in some countries

This Is Our Shot

19 to Zero has joined forces with the South Asian COVID Task Force to launch the This is Our Shot campaign to address vaccine hesitancy, particularly in multicultural communities.

Vaccine hesitancy is a challenge across Canada and our research has demonstrated that there are hesitant populations particularly in our diverse communities. To overcome this challenge, we are launching a viral Vaccine Media Campaign across Canada. Hayley Wickenhiesier, Arlene Dickinson, Clara Hughes, and a number of prominent influencers, such as Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, former Canadian Olympic Committee President Chris Overholt, Sangita Patel and Politicians in BC, Alberta, and Ontario, are helping us launch the campaign on April 28th, 2021.

Follow the campaign @19tozero and @thisisourshotca on Instagram and Twitter!
 

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Corporate Toolkits

Employers are an important partner for helping to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.  Employers can be a trusted resource for employees and can help increase the uptake of vaccines for their employees. They can help encourage employees to follow the public health measures of keeping a 2 m physical distance between people, keeping the environment clean, promoting hand hygiene, and staying home if they have any symptoms of COVID-19.  

Employers can be a trusted resource for employees and can help increase the uptake of vaccines for their employees.  Sharing credible information on COVID-19 and the vaccines, encouraging staff to get vaccinated and talking about vaccine hesitancy, providing time off from work for employees to get the vaccine and in the future potentially offering onsite vaccination clinics are all helpful actions.