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Game Theory and Diseases

https://phys.org/news/2018-09-game-theory-disease-outbreaks.html

This article talked about the link between game theory and the outbreak of diseases, including ways to mitigate the outbreak such as vaccines and quarantines. One of the interesting examples given in this article was the analysis of choosing to get vaccinated. While vaccines have been proven to be safe and help prevent the outbreak of the flu, measles, and other diseases, there are some short-term negative side effects such as getting sick shortly after getting vaccinated or the financial cost. With these negative side effects, a family has to decide how these side effects compare to the benefits of protecting themselves from the disease. If the family chooses to not get vaccinated but the surrounding community as a whole mostly does, the family is less likely to come into contact with the disease and will be protected. However, if everyone in the community thought this way, a deadly outbreak of the disease will occur. While it is difficult to tell if the individual family would be impacted positively or negatively, it is clear the entire population suffers.

In class, we have analyzed the payoffs in various situations regarding individuals and what their best responses to a situation would be. As demonstrated in this article, sometimes a best strategy for an individual conflicts with the optimal strategy for the well-being of an entire population. To determine the outcome of a disease outbreak, not only should the interaction between the individual involved be analyzed, but also how the individuals and the group perceives the risks the payoffs. The best strategy, as we have demonstrated in class, is finding a Nash equilibrium, where the strategy being used is the best response to the strategies implemented by the other players.

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