Meeting Summary: The human experience is significantly shaped by contagions. Contagions determine how we live and how we die. Human reproduction, teaching, cultural evolution, the rise and fall of societies, scientific ideas, detrimental habits and behaviors, genetic disorders and, obviously, infectious diseases all can be understood as contagions.
Despite the fact that all of these contagions interact to shape human life, they are often studied in isolation and in a conceptual vacuum. However, interactions between contagions can shape the time history and extent of epidemics. For example, in the Philippines, the recent failure to accurately account for the interplay of Dengue strains led to reduced effectiveness of a Dengue vaccine, which in turn sparked an anti-vaccination movement that ultimately led to the resurgence of Measles. Motivated in part by this example, this proposed Contagion meeting plans to go beyond the “one pathogen equals one contagion” paradigm and attempt to understand what leads to contagions to interact, as well as how contagions can reinforce or suppress each other. To accomplish these goals, we will bring together researchers from vaccine development, mathematical epidemiology, network theory, psychology, cultural evolution, and the study of myths and misinformation.