Understanding COVID-19

Understanding COVID-19: Curated Scientific Articles

Understanding COVID-19: Digging Into the Science


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We have vaccines! Yay! Now what?

First, let’s acknowledge the breathtaking speed with which the current vaccines were developed! Typically, a vaccine would take years. Go science! The first two currently available vaccines didn’t just magically happen though-they relied on decades of research and specifically on mRNA studies.  An excerpt from King County’s COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) explains how mRNA works: “… mRNA vaccines are a “molecular blueprint” and teach our cells how to make proteins. Although these vaccines are the first mRNA to be authorized for use, mRNA technology has been studied for 30 years. When you get the vaccine, mRNA instructs our own cells to make a protein that looks exactly like one found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. That protein then triggers our immune system to develop a protective response against it…”

It’s natural to have many questions such as is a vaccine safe, when can I get the vaccine, are there side effects, do I still need to wear a mask and so on. Where can you find the most up to date information?

Get answers to your questions

For more information and to stay-up-to-date on the evolving situation, see these sites:

Want a primer on how vaccines stop diseases? Check out this interactive experience!


More COVID-19 Related Interactive Experiences

COVID-19 Glossary of Terms

PacSci is explaining the terms that will help you fully understand the news you’re reading as the pandemic story unfolds. Explore the glossary and use it as you read along to our Curated Scientific Articles. Learn more

Facts In the Time of COVID-19

During a pandemic it’s more important than ever to avoid falling for or spreading misinformation and disinformation. But with so much new and changing information, how do you know what to trust? PacSci has teamed up with the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public to help you navigate COVID-19 and the 24-hour news cycle. Learn more

New York Hall of Science’s Science Behind the News: Coronavirus Exhibit

Every day, there is new information about new viruses. We are experiencing that now with the COVID-19 pandemic right here in our own home in Seattle, as well as sweeping the globe. This can be confusing and scary, especially without the facts. The New York Hall of Science’s Outbreak exhibit provides information about the science behind viruses, and also gives context to what’s going on. Download the exhibit


Uncovering Reality

We’re all looking at a lot of graphs and charts during this pandemic, but which are trustworthy? Check out this virtual exhibit, created by PacSci with the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, to learn more about some of the common ways data visualizations can be accidentally distorted or intentionally manipulated and why that matters. View the exhibit


A PacSci COVID-19 Information Snap Shot

From the moment COVID-19 changed all of our lives in March of 2020 to limited vaccine availability before the New Year, the public has been watching science and innovation in motion. We have watched a real-time global effort result in vaccines coming on line in record time. An emergence of new methods for research collaboration began with China quickly sharing the gene sequencing for the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV), a sequencing speed by the way that was not technically possible until relatively recently. Once epidemiologists and gene experts around the world had that information, the race to understand and contain 2019-nCoV was on.

Resources for Kids

How to get your kid to wear a mask
Check out these good strategies for helping your child successfully wear masks. Read more
Posted May 25, 2020

Caring for Your Family During COVID-19
Check out helpful tips and links to resources to support families from the Washington State Resource Guide for Parents and Caregivers during Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Read more
Posted May 4, 2020

If Your Kid Keeps Asking ‘Why,’ Give Them an Answer
Do your kids have endless questions? Read about why questions are important for their development and why answers are even more important. Read more
Posted March 30, 2020

Stuck at Home? These 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch (Video)
Want to go to a museum, but stuck at home? Never fear, museums around the world are delivering arts and culture straight to your screen with virtual tours! Explore the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, and more. We love seeing so much energy on digital platforms. Read more
Posted March 18, 2020

Helping Children and Teens Cope with Anxiety About COVID-19
How do you help your children and teenagers cope with COVID-19 anxiety? Seattle Children’s Hospital has some tips. Read more
Posted March 17, 2020

Coronavirus prevention: 10 awesome songs to sing while you wash your hands
Can handwashing be inspiring? Yes, yes it can. Take this opportunity to belt out your favorite tunes as you thoroughly wash your hands! Do it in public restrooms. Sing for your pet. But most importantly, sing for your health. Read more
Posted March 9, 2020

Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus
Looking for a gentle way to talk to kids about COVID-19? NPR has just the thing. This comic was created to help you answer common questions—bonus, it can also be printed out and folded into a zine for on-the-go FAQ needs! Read more
Posted March 9, 2020

Public Health Guidance

Starting A COVID-19 ‘Social Bubble’? How Safe Sex Communication Skills Can Help
People are now having to have serious conversations about risk tolerance, boundaries and types of protection for everythign from day-to-day activities. Many of those skills can be derived from conversations people having regarding safe sex. Read more
Posted July 21, 2020

Widespread mask-wearing could prevent COVID-19 second waves: study
Check out these tips on how navigate your community as quarantine restrictions are easing. Read more
Posted June 22, 2020

Widespread mask-wearing could prevent COVID-19 second waves: study
We can do this! A growing body of evidence shows that wide-spread mask wearing, along with social distancing measures, reduces the transmission of COVID-19 and could help keep infections at a manageable level. Read more
Posted June 22, 2020

After 6 Months, Important Mysteries About Coronavirus Endure
Though the last three months may have seemed like an eternity, we’re just at the beginning stages of this pandemic. Scientists still have a lot of mysteries to unravel about COVID-19. Read more
Posted June 16, 2020

Six Months of Coronavirus: Here’s Some of What We’ve Learned
COVID-19 has now been circulating within the human population for 6-months. What do we know so far about this virus that has upended our world? Read more
Posted June 16, 2020

How to Hug During a Pandemic
What do you miss the most? For a lot of us it’s the ability to hug our friends and extended family members. Here are some tips on how to hug more safely. Read more
Posted June 9, 2020

How to Recover From Covid-19 at Home
Even if you don’t have to be hospitalized, recovering from COVID-19 at home can be intense. Here’s some collective wisdom from patients who have been through the process. Read more
Posted June 9, 2020

3 Tips To Make Your Face Mask More Effective
Check out these tips to make your homemade mask more effective. Read more
Posted June 1, 2020

Seattle’s Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York’s Did Not
Seattle was the site of the first COVID-19 cases in the US, but New York quickly became the epicenter of the crisis. Learn more about the different approaches each city took early on, and what might have made the differnce. Read more
Posted June 1, 2020

Seattle’s Other Modern Public Health Crises
Our region’s response to coronavirus has been shaped by past public health crisises. Read more
Posted June 1, 2020

What face masks actually do against coronavirus
Why is universal mask-wearing so important right now? Here’s a comprehensive video about how masks can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Read more
Posted June 1, 2020

Why Has Covid-19 Hit Seniors So Hard?
Why has COVID-19 hit seniors so hard? In addition to how it attacks the body, the novel coronavirus exacerbates the many challenges older patients already face. Read more
Posted May 25, 2020

Seniors with COVID-19 can show very different symptoms, doctors say
According to physicians, older adults don’t necessarily present the symptoms of #COVID-19 in a typical way. This complicates efforts to ensure they get timely and appropriate treatment. Read more
Posted May 18, 2020

Washington seems to be avoiding the dramatic nationwide spike in deaths during coronavirus pandemic
Keep up the good work Washington! We seem to be avoiding the dramatic spike in deaths seen elsewhere durining this pandemic. Read more
Posted May 18, 2020

So many people are convinced that they had covid-19 already
Nobody wants COVID-19, but everybody wishes they’d already had it. Was that cough you had back in September COVID-19? Science says no. Read more
Posted May 11, 2020

Happiness in the time of COVID-19: Santos’s “The Science of Well-being” gains over a million new subscribers
Even in a time of great hardship there are ways to maintain and even increase our happiness. Get inspired and discover ways to increase your happiness through Yale’s Science of Well-Being free online course. Read more
Posted May 11, 2020

New Studies Add to Evidence that Children May Transmit the Coronavirus
Is it safe to reopen schools? New studies show that reopening classrooms would increase transmission of the coronavirus. Read more
Posted May 11, 2020

You’re Stronger Than Your Quarantine Fatigue
Dreading more days of social distancing? Your fatigue is real, but there are ways to cope. Read more
Posted May 11, 2020

From Loss Of Smell To ‘COVID Toes’: What Experts Are Learning About Symptoms
Now that we’re several months into this pandemic, scientists are learning more about the symptoms of COVID-19. Read more
Posted May 11, 2020

Yes, Covid-19 antibody tests are really available in Seattle. But patients have been told otherwise
The University of Washington has started processing a reliable COVID-19 antibody test, which can tell if a patient has had the virus. However, scientists still don’t know if having contracted and recovered from COVID-19 creates immunity to the virus in the future. Read more
Posted April 29, 2020

The Real Reason to Wear a Mask
Should we wear masks or not? The anwer is yes, and thre is no need to use anything fancy. Here’s why. Read more
Posted April 28, 2020

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation COVID-19 model FAQs
Making decisions about the transition from social distancing to containment requires specific real time data. Check out Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s FAQ for an indepth look at data that health officials are using across the country. Read more
Posted April 28, 2020

When will this end, and what comes next? Health officials and epidemiologists are working to figure out Washington’s coronavirus end game
One questions is looming: when is this going to end? Local, state, and national health officials and experts are working together to figure out what the next steps are and how to move forward with a virus that is not going to simply disappear. Read more
Posted April 14, 2020

What we know about the coronavirus model the White House unveiled
How are public health policies and regulations made? Learn about the models and data behind the U.S. governments decision to extend it’s social distancing order through April 30, 2020. Read more
Posted April 2, 2020

How soap kills the coronavirus
How does handwashing prevent the spreading of viruses? Watch and find out. Read more
Posted April 2, 2020

Separating the Facts From the Misinformation About COVID-19
There is so much infomration available about COVID-19, and it can be challenging to tell the difference between fact and fiction. Get answers to all your questions. Read more
Posted April 2, 2020

A psychologist’s science-based tips for emotional resilience during the coronavirus crisis
Don’t forget to take care of your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Washington Post has some advice for dealing with stress and uncertainty during this crisis. Take care of yourself. Read more
Posted March 18, 2020

As the novel coronavirus spreads throughout Washington, can you boost your immunity with food?
Can you boost your immune system with food? Seattle Times investigates! Read more
Posted March 18, 2020

Why COVID-19 can’t beat a good hand-washing
What’s the most important thing you can do to fight COVID-19 (and a whole host of other diseases)? Wash. Your. Hands. It works! But why? Read more
Posted March 13, 2020


Contextual Information

We Still Don’t Fully Understand The Label ‘Asymptomatic’
We’ve heard a lot about asympotmatic coronavirus patients. While they may not experience the initial symptoms, it doesn’t mean that the virus isn’t taking a toll. Read more
Posted June 29, 2020

Coronavirus Ravaged a Choir. But Isolation Helped Contain It.
This Mount Vernon case illustrates the highly contagious nature of this disease, as well as effectiveness of self-isolation and tracing. Read more
Posted May 25, 2020

True or false: Can you spot the infodemic in our midst?
Rumors, accidental misinformation and deliberate disinformation are on the rise during this pandemic. Learn more about how we can all develop some immunity to untrustworthy information. Read more
Posted May 4, 2020

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Could End
How might this pandemic end? Past epidemics give scientists vital clues about how similar viruses have spread, what it took to get them under control and how that compares to what we know of COVID-19. Read more
Posted May 4, 2020

Did you already have coronavirus in January or February?
We now know that COVID-19 was circulating in the US for weeks before the first case was confirmed. Could that cold you had in January have really been COVID-19? Genetic testing is helping scientists figure that out. Read more
Posted May 4, 2020

What if immunity to covid-19 doesn’t last?
A major ongoing question about COVID-19 is if people who have had the virus become immune to it. Review what we know about how immune systems respond to the flu and the common cold, and what that might mean for COVID-19. Read more
Posted April 29, 2020

The first modern pandemic
Bill Gates discusses the first modern pandemic and crucial next steps including the need for innovation. Read more
Posted April 28, 2020

A dinner table chat between husband and wife may help solve the coronavirus mask shortage
Innovation happens at the least expected moments, like over a casual dinner at home. Read about how one family conversation lead to a potential solution about how to tackle the shortage of N95 masks with decontamination systems that will allow them to be reusable. Read more
Posted April 20, 2020

The Pandemic Is Turning the Natural World Upside Down
The 50th anniversary of Earth Day happening in the midst of a pandemic, making for a unique celebration. This pandemic is certainly affecting the human experience, but these bizarre conditions are also being felt across land, air, and sea. Read more
Posted April 20, 2020

The Best Hopes for a Coronavirus Drug
What does an effective COVID-19 drug will need to do? To put it simply, block 29 proteins from hijacking, suppressing, and evading a humans’ cellular machinery. Read more
Posted April 14, 2020

EvergreenHealth doctor opens up about ‘brush with death,’ recovery after coronavirus
Read this story of survival and innovation. A local EvergreenHealth doctor contracted COVID-19 while working on the frontlines and received last-resort treatments. Thankfully, he’s on the mend and there is much for doctors nationwide better understand COVID-19 and some people’s dangerous immune response to the virus. Learn more
Posted April 14, 2020

COVID-19 Sound Map
Have you noticed the world sounds very different right now? This is one noticeable change we are all experiencing due to policies of social distancing. People are now crowdsourcing a Sound Map on Google Earth to capture how sonic environments have changed. Submit the sounds around you! Learn more
Posted April 9, 2020

What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage
We’ve all heard news reports of hoarding toilet paper, particularly as experts predit that 40% of toilet paper usage will switch from commercial to residential. Should we be concerned about supply chains? Read more
Posted April 9, 2020

The Technology That Could Free America From Quarantine
Can contact tracing save us from future pandemics? However, there are serious privacy implications. Is it okay to relax privacy regulations when health and safety are concerned? Read this in-depth analysis. Read more
Posted April 9, 2020

How the coronavirus overwhelmed Washington state’s early efforts to contain it
Washington was the first state in the US to have a reported case of COVID-19. The Seattle Times has created an in-depth reconstruction of the early response points and elected events from the first 60 days since patient zero. Read more
Posted April 9, 2020

Live Chat with Microbiologist and Virus Expert – Dr. Benhur Lee
Check out this interview with Dr. Benhur Lee (@VirusWhisperer) is a Professor of Microbiology and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. Watch video
Posted April 9, 2020

How To Tell If We’re Beating COVID-19
How do we know if our efforts of staying home and staying safe are affecting the spread of COVID-19? Watch this analysis of the growth numbers from MinutePhyiscs. Watch video
Posted April 2, 2020

Why Coronavirus Will Stimulate Innovation
Pandemics have stimulated innovation for thousands of years. Read about societal and economic innovations that have emerged from historically challenging times. What innovations might COVID-19 bring? Read more
Posted April 2, 2020

Yes, the new coronavirus is mutating—but that’s not a bad thing
COVID-19 is mutating, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This scientific analysis explains how viruses change over time and what that means for COVID-19. Read more
Posted April 2, 2020

Scarcity Of Health Workers A New Concern As Self-Quarantining Spreads With Virus
What is “flattening the curve,” and why is it so important? @NPR has answers for you in this article about the impact COVID-19 has had on the health care system. Read more
Posted March 18, 2020

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Exponential growth and epidemics
Math? Math. Indulge your inner math nerd with this 3Blue1Brown video illustrating how exponential growth applies to the COVID-19 outbreak. Watch now
Posted March 17, 2020

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now
As Seattleites know, closing businesses and schools during pandemics has a huge impact on the community and local economy. Read an argument that this decision is crucial for public health. Let us know what do you think @pacsciRead more
Posted March 17, 2020

Before coronavirus: How Seattle handled the Spanish flu
Did you know that this isn’t the first time our community has been asked to take extraordinary measures to address an epidemic? Learn about how Seattle handled the Spanish Flu from Crosscut. Read more
Posted March 10, 2020


Digging Into the Science

Stories from the Frontline of Global Health

We hear a lot about big picture strategies for improving Global Health crises, but what does it take to actually implement change on the frontline? Listen to first hand experiences of helping to implement accessible and novel healthcare strategies worldwide, and right here in Seattle as well.

Portrait of an Epidemic: Mathematical Modeling in Modern Day Epidemiology

When epidemiologists are faced with addressing questions that are too difficult, expensive or dangerous to test in the real world, they turn to mathematical modeling. Hear how scientists are using models to guide global efforts towards the eradication and control of infectious diseases.

Global Health: Facing the Future

As the world becomes more interconnected and the global population rises to an estimated 9.7 billion by 2050, global health is more important than ever before. Previously isolated communicable diseases are more likely to become world problems, new health risks will present themselves, and many will take a global effort to solve. Watch this discussion on the future of global health and why health needs to be considered in a global context.

The Science and Ethics of DNA Editing

With the recent news of the world’s first babies being born with edited DNA, the research community is outraged and discussions have sprung up around the globe about this apparent abuse of this technology. Listen to this discussion about current research, applications, ethical considerations, and controversies surrounding CRISPR, a powerful DNA editing technology that is revolutionary in its ability to target and modify DNA.

Addressing the Urban Global Water Crisis

Despite major improvements to global living standards, there are still 2.1 billion people worldwide without access to safe drinking water and even more without basic sanitation facilities. To date, most funding for water, sanitation, and hygiene has targeted rural areas. Hear about the urban water crisis and its promising solutions, and learn how organizations are helping to support clean water and sanitation in Ethiopia and India.

Learning Resources: Curiosity at Home

Ignite your curiosity at home with streaming live science shows, hands-on STEM activities, tutorials, interviews, and more. These educational activities and resources are for all ages of learners and are meant to inspire and excite all people about science.

Learn more


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