Science Communication

Science communication in action: COVID-19 edition

10 examples of solid scicomm about the novel coronavirus
John Arnst Laurel Oldach
March 23, 2020

There's a flood of information out there about the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some the best articles and multimedia we've seen so far.

 

2019 novel coronavirus mini-course (Shauna Bennett and Elfy Chiang, Lifeology)

This illustrated primer, aimed at people with little knowledge of health and science topics, is simple, easy to follow, and not alarmist. Good for kids. Available in a growing number of languages.

Diaries of a coronavirologist (Stuart Weston, Youtube) 

In another example of direct-to-the-public science communication, postdoctoral researcher Stuart Weston, who works in a coronavirus lab at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has launched the YouTube channel “Diaries of a coronavirologist” to discuss his research and help cut through misinformation about COVID-19.

How coronavirus hijacks your cells (Jonathan Corum and Carl Zimmer, The New York Times)

Elegance often comes from simplicity. The Times has put together the most straightforwardly stunning visual of how the coronavirus enters cells and bends their machinery to its bidding.

How soap absolutely annihilates the coronavirus  (Brian Resnick, Vox)

The article is good, but the video is even better: It combines simple sciart graphics explaining why amphiphilic soap works better than water alone with a visualization of the effects of 5, 10 and 20 seconds of handwashing on a UV-visible lotion. Plus, there’s a list of handwashing ditties in case yours have gotten tiresome.

How testing for COVID-19 works (Siouxsie Wiles, The Spinoff, New Zealand)

This excellent hand-drawn graphic illustrates the differences in symptoms between COVID-19, the flu and a common cold. We’ve all got a little hypochondria these days, but try to stay calm and reserve tests for people who need them! 

My coronavirus test: five days, a dozen calls, hours of confusion (Tim Herrera, The New York Times)

Across Twitter and countless columns, the same story appears, with only slight variations: I knew I was sick, nobody could tell me what to do, and it took heaven and earth to get tested (with many folks not being able to get tested at all).

What went wrong with coronavirus testing in the U.S. (Robert Baird, The New Yorker)

In mid-February, the technical problems with the CDC's coronavirus test primers seemed to barely warrant a second notice. "Another round of primer optimization," we said at the ASBMB office, deciding it wasn't newsworthy. A month later, the government's failure to roll out accurate testing in a timely way is a national disgrace. This detailed, policy-focused explainer describes how we got from there to here.

Chloroquine may fight COVID-19—and Silicon Valley’s into it (Adam Rogers, Wired)

First came the tweets; then came the tech bros. In this masterful deep dive, Wired's Adam Rogers digs into the history of chloroquine and casts the tech world's very recent embrace of the old malaria drug as a hail Mary cure for COVID-19 as emblematic of Silicon Valley's fast, sometimes careless, nature.

Why outbreaks spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve” (Harry Stevens, The Washington Post)  

This simulator shows visually why reducing social contact is good for everyone, and why “flatten the curve” has become such a buzzy instruction.

Cancel everything (Yascha Mounk, The Atlantic)

While many of us have taken social distancing to heart, working from home and disengaging from much of the outside world, this Atlantic story rings loud for everyone in the back of the room (and the beaches and the bars): Cancel your plans. Cancel everything.

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John Arnst

John Arnst was a science writer for ASBMB Today.

Laurel Oldach

Laurel Oldach is a former science writer for the ASBMB.

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