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Reaction To A Possible COVID-19 Vaccine

Believe it or not, the COVID-19 pandemic has existed for just eight months. Yes, the first case was confirmed in China, last December, but the pandemic itself hasn’t existed too long in the grand scope, though it’s certainly felt like a lifetime.

There still does not appear to be a universal correct or even agreed upon method for fighting and controlling the spread of the virus. As of Nov. 13, there have been more than 10.7 million confirmed cases and 245,000 deaths in the US alone, according to NBC News. Globally, CNN reports 53.2 million cases and 1.3 million deaths.

The one thing it seems everyone can agree upon is that a vaccine continues to be the most important thing to slow down and end the pandemic. And there have been mixed messages throughout on how quickly a vaccine could be developed and what the availability would be.

This week, though, came perhaps the most encouraging news to date on a vaccine. On Monday, multiple news outlets reported that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said its vaccine could be 90% effective, based on early and incomplete results through phase three of its clinical trial. Patients will need two doses, three weeks apart. Pfizer estimated it could manufacture 50 million doses, enough for 25 million people, by the end of 2020, though it will be rationed to people in greatest need and front-line workers.

Still, the longing for any positive news came as quite welcomed for many this week. But just how is the news being received online, via social media? That’s where Social Studio and the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center come in. We created a topic profile using the keywords, “vaccine” and “coronavirus,” “vaccine” and “rona,” “vaccine” and “covid,” and “vaccine” and “pfizer.” This is certainly not an extensive, complete measure, but provides a good snapshot of the online conversation.

The search yielded 2,008,965 posts as of 5 p.m. on Nov. 13. Quite impressive for anything we typically search.

Drilling down further, these are the top words associated with this search:

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump is seen multiple times within this search. That’s largely due to the President taking much of the credit for the news. Operation Warp Speed, which is reflected in ‘operation’ in this word cloud, is also mentioned prominently, since the public-private partnership initiated by the Trump administration, has figured in every vaccine discussion. According to AP, Pfizer initially opted not to join the operation, which helped fund many vaccine makers’ research. Pfizer said it instead invested $2 billion of its own money for testing and manufacturing. But the doses Pfizer is working on are part of the operation’s goal of 300 million doses ready for sometime next year.

Not surprising, the sentiment score generated by Social Studio shows 55.7% positivity. This comes mostly from the 35-44 age group, which have also come from London, England and New York. And the tweets in this age group have been mostly from male users. Perhaps surprisingly, the 65-plus age group has not been as active about the topic, though that age group is not predominantly active on social media. It also is telling that users in the 18-20 and 21-24 age groups have not been active about any of the keywords.

Other interesting finds from the search indicate that Trump is the username most associated with these keywords. That’s followed by Pfizer, itself, Ticketmaster, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and President-elect Joe Biden. Upon further review, Ticketmaster is mentioned due to reports that the company is devising a plan that would require anyone who purchases a ticket to verify they have received the vaccine, when available.

So, needless to say, it’s been a busy few weeks. And hope remains for a vaccine, in the near future.

We’ll continue to monitor this and plenty of other topics from our perch in the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center at College of Communication and Information.