Behavioral research could be crucial to successful distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine

Projects such as Labyrinth at ConductScience are driving behavioral research forward

Since the initial outbreaks of COVID-19 during the first months of 2020, much of the world’s attention has been on finding a vaccine for this disease. It has brought the global economy to a halt, as everyone waits with anticipation for things to return to relative normality.

Creating a vaccine that passes numerous clinical trials is difficult enough. Naturally, a vaccine would need to be proven as safe before being deployed worldwide.

There has been plenty of discussion about the process of creating a vaccine, and the concerns around safety. One of the most promising vaccine trials, Oxford University’s collaboration with AstraZeneca, had to pause for almost a week from September 6th so the team could investigate serious safety issues.

Clinical trials in South Africa, Brazil and the US have also been paused on several occasions. One of the biggest things to note about these stoppages is that there has not been much clarity from organizations on the incidents that forced the breaks. Public trust in a vaccine is likely to experience a severe dip if they feel they are not being told the whole truth.

The main thing about a vaccine for COVID-19 is that it has to reach the vast majority of the population for it to be effective. If only 60% of the population gets vaccinated, the remaining 40% of the population remains just as susceptible to the virus.

Despite the massive outbreaks of the virus in Europe in spring, only around 5% of Spain’s population is thought to have had COVID-19 by June. This demonstrates that COVID-19 still has many potential hosts to infect, and this without even considering the chances of reinfection.

Therefore, if the example of 60% of the population becoming vaccinated were to occur, the virus would still cause a lot of damage to the remaining 40% of the population.

Willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine

As established, the success of a COVID-19 vaccine will be reliant on the population’s willingness to take it. This is where organizations like ConductScience step in. This particular company develops scientific tools that enhance the reliability of scientific research. One of its primary subsidiaries is MazeEngineers – developer of mazes that test animal behavior.

Labyrinth is a behavioral maze from MazeEngineers. Automation is a key feature of Labyrinth – a multi-layered maze that allows for replication of over 20 different behavioral structures.

A novel way to conduct operant conditioning studies with rodents, the Labyrinth makes use of a virtual touchscreen environment to provide one of the most intelligent testing platforms.

Of course, drawing conclusions about human behavior through the study of rodents is naturally a field that required intensive research. However, there is plenty of evidence about how rats socialize similarly to humans, displaying similar behaviours and tendencies to respond to social cues.

With this knowledge, we can use rodent studies to explore the environmental and social factors that might convince the highest percentage of humans to comply with receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Behavioral research, particularly involving rodents, is driven forward by organizations like ConductScience that are dedicated to sharing quality research tools such as Labyrinth. This is one route to finding answers when it comes to increasing distribution of and willingness to take a vaccine for COVID-19.

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