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11 Science Articles about COVID-19

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been all over the world! Many students studied at home due to the pandemic and almost everyone has to live with coronavirus restrictions. Since 2020 scientists have examined vaccinations and other aspects of this global health crisis. This collection of adapted research articles provides students with approachable, empirical evidence of COVID-19’s impacts on our bodies and our world. Engage students with standards-matched adaptations, introductory video content, comprehension questions, and vocabulary to further the lesson’s outcomes. Each adapted article also comes with additional suggestions for activities to enhance student understanding and make the class more exciting.

1. What was the impact of a delayed second COVID-19 vaccine?

Abstract: Do you remember the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic? It got quite scary at times. There were many unknowns and governments had to make hard decisions. At first, there were lockdowns. Then, less than a year later, scientists developed vaccines. The UK was the first country to start national vaccination. A full vaccination course required two doses for each person. But some evidence suggested that even one dose could provide decent protection for some time. So the UK government decided to delay the second dose and have more people receive the first dose as fast as possible. What was the impact of this decision? We used a mathematical model to find out. It turned out that delaying the second dose prevented around 58,000 hospitalizations. It has saved more than 10,000 lives!

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students. An audio version is available.

  • Key terms: disease control, epidemic, immunity, infectious diseases, outbreak, vaccine
  • Scientific figures: line graph
  • Scientific methods: case study, data validation, policy analysis, risk analysis, scientific modeling

2. Can you get vaccinated without a needle?

Abstract: Vaccines are an important tool to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. Despite their importance, it can be difficult to get such important medicine to everybody who needs it. We developed a painless vaccine patch that can make vaccines easier to transport. It could also increase access for everyone, especially those who are scared of needles! In this study, we wanted to determine if our vaccine patch could produce an immune response, increasing our bodies’ protection. We measured the amount of antibodies produced by the immune systems in mice who received the vaccine patch and showed that this vaccine tool is just as effective as traditional needle vaccinations. We also found that the vaccine patch protected the mice from COVID-19 after a single application. These discoveries proved that the vaccine patch can be a safe and effective form of delivering vaccinations.

This article is suitable for high school students. An audio version is available.

  • Key terms: disease control, epidemic, immunity, infectious diseases, microbiology, molecular biology, outbreak, vaccine
  • Scientific figures: bar graph
  • Scientific methods: ELISA, experiment, fluorescence imaging

3. How did organoids help scientists understand COVID-19?

Abstract: Have you ever wondered how scientists know how a virus affects the human body? Or how they develop medicines and vaccines to reduce the impact of viruses like the one that causes COVID-19? The answer is organoids! These miniature models of human organs are grown in the laboratory. Scientists use organoids to determine how a virus attacks the body and identify possible treatments for the virus. We conducted a literature review of the organoids used in COVID-19 research. We found that COVID-19 research used many different types of organoids. We also learned how scientists created these organoids and what they taught us about the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We identified ways to improve this new method of disease research in the future.

This article is suitable for elementary school, middle school, and lower high school students. It is available in both UPPER and LOWER reading level adaptations. An audio version is available.

  • Key terms: disease control, infectious diseases, microbiology, outbreak, stem cells, vaccine
  • Scientific figures: microscopy image, pictograph
  • Scientific methods: systematic review

4. How much plastic from the pandemic ends up in the ocean?

Abstract: Have you ever noticed facemasks littering the streets? They’ve become a part of day-to-day life, but where do they end up? It’s estimated that around 1.5 billion facemasks entered the oceans in 2020! And it’s not just masks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made a lot more plastic for different uses. We wanted to find out how much extra plastic waste there is due to the pandemic. We also wanted to find out how much enters the ocean, and where it eventually ends up. We used data from lots of different sources to work out how much extra plastic has been made for the pandemic. We then used scientific models to work out how much of this plastic ended up in rivers and then the ocean. We found out that over 8 million tons of extra plastic waste has been made globally due to the pandemic. Over 25,000 tons of this has entered the ocean, where it can harm marine wildlife.

This article is suitable for elementary school and middle school students. An audio version is available, as well as an Ask-a-Scientist interview with original researcher Peipei Wu.

  • Key terms: ocean currents, outbreak, plastic, waste, wildlife
  • Scientific figures: map
  • Scientific methods: data extrapolation, scientific modeling

5. How well do masks protect against COVID-19?

Abstract: COVID-19 has changed our lives. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many countries have introduced various restrictions. Most of us had to stay at home, distance ourselves from others, and wear face masks in public spaces for some period of time. Two years in, COVID-19 is still affecting us. Many people still have to keep their physical distance and wear masks. So are these measures effective? We tested what would happen if a sick person and a healthy one got together and talked for some time. We found out that social distancing alone isn’t effective. There is a 90% chance that a healthy person 3m (10ft) away will get infected in less than 5 minutes. However, if both wear a protective mask, this risk goes down considerably – even if they are standing quite close together!

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students. An audio version is available.

  • Key terms: disease control, epidemic, infectious diseases, microbiology, outbreak
  • Scientific figures: pictograph, scatterplot
  • Scientific methods: experiment, representative sampling, risk analysis, scientific modeling

6. How can we relax COVID-19 restrictions?

Abstract: COVID-19 has changed everyone’s lives. At one time or another, most of us have had to stay at home and socially distance ourselves from others. But in some countries, people are starting to get out of lockdowns. The last lockdown in England started in January 2021. Relaxing the restrictions afterward happened gradually. It depended mainly on the number of immune people. Was this a good strategy? In this article, scientists created a mathematical model to see if lifting the restrictions was well-timed. The strategy was successful at first. But the emergence of the Delta variant changed things. The model shows that vaccination alone may not be enough to stop another peak of hospitalizations and deaths.

The article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students. An audio version is available.

  • Key terms: disease control, epidemic, immunity, infectious diseases, microbiology, outbreak, vaccine
  • Scientific figures: time series graph
  • Scientific methods: data reconstruction, scientific modeling

7. How did COVID lockdowns affect air pollution?

Abstract: Air pollution harms people’s health. During the first few months of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many countries went into lockdown. Many adults worked from home, children went to school online, and families limited their trips outside of the home. Fewer trips outside meant fewer cars on the road and planes in the air. In this article, researchers wanted to know whether the change in people’s driving and flying habits resulted in better air quality. Using satellites, weather stations, and traffic data, they found out that it did!

This article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students. An audio version is available.

  • Key terms: atmosphere, disease control, epidemic, infectious diseases, outbreak
  • Scientific figures: pictograph, time series graph
  • Scientific methods: experiment, observation, scientific modeling

8. Routine vaccinations during a pandemic – benefit or risk?

Abstract: Routine vaccinations help prevent millions of deaths each year. But now that the new coronavirus is here, some countries may stop their vaccination programs for a while. The idea is to reduce the risk of spreading the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease. But which is better: fewer coronavirus infections or making sure children get all their usual vaccinations? To find out, scientists used a mathematical model. Thus, they worked out the risks and benefits if health systems sustain their routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The article is suitable for lower high school and upper high school students. An audio version is available.

  • Key terms: disease control, epidemic, immunity, infectious diseases, microbiology, outbreak, vaccine
  • Scientific figures: map
  • Scientific methods: data reconstruction, policy analysis, representative sampling, risk analysis, scientific modeling

9. What is the impact of COVID-19 on other diseases?

Abstract: The measures against COVID-19 are necessary to fight the pandemic. On the other hand, they have a negative effect on many other aspects of our lives – economy, education, and even on other diseases. In this article, scientists developed a computer model to estimate how the measures against COVID-19 are impacting people with HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. These three diseases are a major threat! Unfortunately, the new coronavirus and the measures against it might increase the deaths by 10-36% for these infectious diseases

The article is suitable for middle school and lower high school students. An audio version is available.

  • Key terms: disease control, epidemic, HIV, infectious diseases, malaria, microbiology, mosquitoes, vector borne diseases
  • Scientific figures: data table, time series graph
  • Scientific methods: case study, data extrapolation, data reconstruction, policy analysis, representative sampling, scientific modeling

10. How can we help stop the COVID-19 pandemic?

Abstract: The new coronavirus has already claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Different countries are taking different measures in the fight against this new threat. Many people are staying at home. But is it worth it? That’s what we wanted to find out. We created a computer model that helps us assess the effect of different measures against COVID-19. We checked for the impact on people’s health and the state of the healthcare systems in two countries: the UK and the US. We found that social distancing of the whole population, not just the elderly, would have the most beneficial effect. The combination of this measure with others would be even better.

This article is suitable for high school students.

  • Key terms: disease control, epidemic, immunity, infectious diseases, outbreak, vaccine
  • Scientific figures: time series graph, data table
  • Scientific methods: case study, data reconstruction, representative sampling, scientific modeling

11. Can HIV drugs help COVID-19 patients?

Abstract: Since its emergence in December 2019, the new coronavirus has killed tens of thousands of people. While social distancing limits the spread of the disease, it’s not enough to end the epidemic. Both vaccines and drugs are a great weapon against viruses, but they take a long time to create. This is why we turned to existing antiviral drugs. We chose an anti-HIV treatment because it showed positive results against other coronaviruses. A total of 200 adults with confirmed severe coronavirus infection participated in our trial. Half of them received the anti-HIV treatment while the others served as a control group. We found that these drugs weren’t particularly useful in patients with severe coronavirus infection. The treatment failed to speed up the patients’ improvement. It didn’t reduce the viral load, either. 

The article is suitable for high school students. and includes a time-series graph.

  • Key terms: disease control, epidemic, HIV, infectious diseases, microbiology, outbreak, pharmaceuticals, vaccine
  • Scientific figures: microscopy, time series graph
  • Scientific methods: case study, experiment, PCR (polymerase chain reaction), representative sampling

That’s Not All!

For more content check out our complete collection of adapted research articles on infectious diseases, outbreaks, disease control, and health and medical topics.

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