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.

John Arnst

John Arnst was a science writer for ASBMB Today.

Laurel Oldach

Laurel Oldach is a science writer for the ASBMB.

Join the ASBMB Today mailing list

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Latest in Opinions

Opinions highlights or most popular articles

It’s the little things
Editor's Note

It’s the little things

January 15, 2021

The essays in January wellness issue emphasize small actions to ease pandemic stress.

Finding ‘ikigai’ during a pandemic
Wellness

Finding ‘ikigai’ during a pandemic

January 14, 2021

A book about the purposeful habits of the elderly in Japan has inspired Deboleena Guharay to maintain healthy practices through the past year.

From grief to healing in the year of COVID-19
Wellness

From grief to healing in the year of COVID-19

January 13, 2021

“My grandmother meant the world to me. Nothing could have prepared me for her death or the anger I directed at myself for being unable to help her during her final months.”

New-ish adventures help me reconnect
Wellness

New-ish adventures help me reconnect

January 12, 2021

“One day in April while working from home, I was feeling particularly down, and every negative thought weighed down on me all at once. To counter this feeling, I thought, ‘Hey, what if I try something different and new?’”

Celebrating together, apart
Wellness

Celebrating together, apart

January 11, 2021

When a good friend earned an award, Courtney Chandler didn’t let social distancing stand in the way of a party.

Redirecting my COVID-19 anxiety into service
Wellness

Redirecting my COVID-19 anxiety into service

January 08, 2021

When Allie Smith learned that some of her students lacked the technology they needed to keep up with their online classes, she figured that — unlike the pandemic — this was a problem she could do something about.