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Public Health

Workshop: COVID-19 and Public Health

Who is this Workshop for? 

High school students interested in learning about COVID-19 and public health. This is also an excellent course to prepare to do college-level research and writing and engage in the kinds of discussion and analysis practiced in college classrooms.

Workshop Description 

COVID-19 has transformed public health policies, practices, and outcomes. In most countries, the pandemic has devastated healthcare systems, reduced life expectancies, and exacerbated inequalities. At the same time, the pandemic has greatly accelerated advancements in the understanding of viruses, vaccines, treatments, and the advantages and disadvantages of various public health measures. Different countries have implemented vastly different public health policies that have had vastly different outcomes with regards to the rate of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.  This course will examine various approaches to dealing with COVID-19 and its effects on public health.

Sample Research Topics

  • What explains the differences between the shape and size of a particular country’s COVID-19 waves and those of other countries that implemented similar public health measures?

  • What explains the differences between the shape and size of particular COVID-19 waves of a particular state or province and those of other states and provinces in the same country?

  • Which countries are currently experiencing the largest numbers of COVID-19 cases per million people? What do you think is causing their population to be more likely to be infected right now than the populations of other countries?

  • How and why do different public health officials currently disagree about the best way to deal with COVID-19?

  • What cases of COVID-19 have defied the expectations of the current public health consensus (e.g. transmission of COVID-19 between fully vaccinated and boosted people in quarantine hotels who practiced every recommended safety measure, deaths of fully vaccinated and boosted young people with no health problems, asymptomatic COVID infections in of unvaccinated elderly people with severe health problems, etc.)? What might be learned from such cases?

  • How and why might mild and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 cause long-term disabilities?

  • What would be the advantages and disadvantages of recommending another booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of COVID-19 vaccine technology (MRNA, inactivated virus, non-replicating viral vector, protein subunit, etc.)?

  • What might account for differences in the efficacy and side effects of different vaccines that use the same technology (e.g. Pfizer versus Moderna, which are both mRNA vaccines, or CanSino vs. AstraZeneca vs. Sputnik vs. Johnson & Johnson, which are all non-replicating viral vector vaccines)?

  • What effects have COVID-19 vaccination efforts and flu vaccination efforts had on each other?

  • How and why does the currently most prevalent COVID-19 variant differ from the variant it replaced?

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of tailoring the next COVID-19 vaccine booster to the COVID-19 variant that is currently most prevalent?

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of COVID-19 treatment?

  • How many booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines should people get each year in future years?

  • What is likely to be the future of COVID-19 and public health efforts to combat it?

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