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In Cureus

Introduction The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. Established on April 7, 1948, it has since played a pivotal role in several public health achievements and has had considerable success. But never since the establishment of the WHO has it faced a pandemic of such a huge scale. The spread of the coronavirus and the inability of the WHO to contain it has raised many questions about its efficiency and role. The present study explores the range of emotions and sentiments evoked by public health information posts of WHO over the course of the pandemic. Methods This study uses Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), which is a neural network-based technique for natural language processing. Three timeframes of five months each, starting from March 2020, were defined. A total of six posts, two posts from each timeframe, were then analysed. Comments were classified as positive, neutral and negative. The broader positive and negative classes were further subclassified into two classes each. Natural language processing was further applied to obtain results. Results The general trend of the sentiments over the period of pandemic showed a significant and dominant proportion of negative comments that overshadowed the neutral, positive and irrelevant comments over all timeframes. Specifically, the negative sentiments peaked during the second timeframe. The negativity was directed more towards the WHO, governments and people not complying with coronavirus disease 2019-appropriate norms. Positive comments were mostly expressed towards health workers. Conclusion An unusually high proportion of negative sentiment was observed in response to relatively innocuous public health posts. This may be a result of heightened anxiety, questionable credibility of the sources of information and geopolitical power play maligning the image of the WHO.

Pathak Tanmay S, Athavale Harsh, Pathak Amey S, Athavale Sunita

2021-Oct

bert, covid 19, neural networks, sentiment analysis, social media analytics, who- world health organization