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Can game theory prevent disease outbreaks?

Its often difficult for authorities to decide what to do when there’s a disease outbreak, sick people on a plane, or general vaccination procedures. For example, weighing the upfront cost of vaccination (financial, time, pain, possible immune system reaction) in comparison to the benefit (not getting sick) seems like a straight-forward decision. However, if everyone else is vaccinated and therefore will not get sick, why do you need to get a flu shot? If an entire population believes this, then no one would get a vaccination, and therefore it could increase the spread of a disease, such as the flu. This specific situation happened with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination. After the vaccine was incorrectly linked to autism, the rates of vaccination dropped in developed countries. This in turn led to an increase of the disease, which resulted in serious deaths.

In situations like these, game theory explains that the best strategy for a single person might conflict with the best strategy with the positive well-being of the whole group. The interaction between individuals will determine the risk of an outbreaks, in addition to how risk is perceived within the individual and the group.

Link: https://theconversation.com/game-theory-can-help-prevent-disease-outbreaks-102934

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