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COVID-19 took the world by storm in 2019/20, but the story of SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—begins decades ago. Scientists who studied the SARS and MERS epidemics in the early 2000s knew it was just a matter of time before a novel coronavirus would become a global health threat. What followed was the fastest vaccine development in history. This teaching case features researchers from Johns Hopkins University, the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, and the American Museum of Natural History, who will explain the science behind SARS-CoV-2, the development of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, and the long-standing health inequities that the pandemic shone a light on.
These curriculum materials include four videos and three text passages featuring researchers with expertise in viruses, infectious diseases, and public health, along with the data from the phase three clinical trial that led to the mRNA Moderna vaccine. These materials are divided into two sections. You can:
Access Video and Text Passages with discussion questions
Analyze the Data on Five Separate Graphs
This teaching case uses readings, videos, and data analysis to tell the story of how an mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 was tested for safety and efficacy and the impact of public health measures on viral spread. Students analyze data and make conclusions about some of the same questions that the scientists consider, including how to design a clinical trial.
Here’s a suggested progression through the materials:
Part 1: How Do You Prepare for a Pandemic of a Virus That Doesn’t Exist Yet?
Part 2: How Do You Develop a Vaccine for a Novel Disease in Less Than a Year?
Part 3: How Do We Know the Vaccine Is Safe and Effective?
Part 4: What Is the Future of Pandemics and Vaccines?
Created with the support of the City of New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. © 2022 City of New York