Kinetic compartmental models driven by opinion dynamics: vaccine hesitancy and social influence

A. Bondesan, G. Toscani, M. Zanella

Math. Mod. Meth. Appl. Sci., 34(06): 1043-1076, 2024. (Preprint arXiv)

We propose a kinetic model for understanding the link between opinion formation phenomena and epidemic dynamics. The recent pandemic has brought to light that vaccine hesitancy can present different phases and temporal and spatial variations, presumably due to the different social features of individuals.

The emergence of patterns in societal reactions permits to design and predict the trends of a pandemic. This suggests that the problem of vaccine hesitancy can be described in mathematical terms, by suitably coupling a kinetic compartmental model for the spreading of an infectious disease with the evolution of the personal opinion of individuals, in the presence of leaders. The resulting model makes it possible to predict the collective compliance with vaccination campaigns as the pandemic evolves and to highlight the best strategy to set up for maximizing the vaccination coverage. We conduct numerical investigations which confirm the ability of the model to describe different phenomena related to the spread of an epidemic.