COVID Explainers

Award-nominated videos to help British Columbians make sense of the pandemic

Journalism: reporting, animation

We created a series of explainer videos with The Tyee to help British Columbians make sense of the coronavirus pandemic.
This series — a 2020 Webster Award finalist — cleared up misconceptions while new information was coming out every day, and helped inform safe decision-making throughout the pandemic.

How Close Is Too Close?

What’s a safe distance for runners and cyclists during the coronavirus pandemic? And why has research on this topic sparked heated debate among scientists and the public?

We interview Dr. Bert Blocken, the lead author of a study about droplets released by runners which drew controversy based on the release strategy. We also speak with Dr. Steve Rogak, a local expert in droplets and aerosols, as well as Dr. Joshua Santarpia, whose work studying the shedding of COVID-19 viruses and RNA has been influential.

Cracking Open Dr. Henry’s Model for Taming the Pandemic

This math machine informs life-saving decisions. Watch how it works, and the brains behind it.

Is it possible to predict how people will act in a pandemic?

Learn about the intricate equation devised by experts including mathematicians Dr. Caroline Colijn of Simon Fraser University and Dr. Daniel Coombs of the University of British Columbia.

Colijn and Coombs explain the advantages and limitations of Dynamic Compartmental Modelling. By incorporating separate tracks for people who do and don’t distance, they are able to capture realistic population behaviour. This is key to creating an accurate model, fighting the contact threshold, and preventing explosive growth in BC’s COVID-19 outbreak.

How to Make Decisions in a Pandemic

Humans aren’t built to make smart decisions right now. Here’s a guide to doing better.

Two experts — psychologist Dr. Paul Slovic, an expert in decision-making in times of risk, and UBC bioethicist Dr. Rana Ahmad — explain why we get things wrong and how we can adjust our thinking to make smarter choices.

Why, for example, our impulse to stock up on hand sanitizer seems sensible, but works against our self-interest and increases our chances of getting COVID-19. And why our brains struggle to compute the kinds of risks that come with exponential growth.

The Search for a COVID-19 Treatment

World Health Organization Solidarity Trial

Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an associate professor in the University of British Columbia department of pediatrics and an infectious disease specialist at BC Children’s Hospital, is working on clinical trials to test the effectiveness of three existing drugs in treating COVID-19 patients.

His work is part of the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial - an unprecedented worldwide effort to search for existing medicines that increase survival.

The Vancouver Company Turning Blood into a COVID Treatment

Antibody therapy can help save lives. Here’s how it works.

Experts — immunologist Dr. Ralph Pantophlet at Simon Fraser University, and co-founder and COO of AbCellera Dr. Véronique Lecault — explain Convalescent Plasma Therapy, an antibody treatment currently being tested in COVID-19 patients.

The treatment works by finding and isolating the right antibody from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19. While it won’t be a cure, the treatment would provide effective stop-gap relief while we wait for a COVID-19 vaccine.

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