Areas of Science Human Biology & Health
Pandemics – COVID-19
Difficulty
Time Required Short (2-5 days)
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.

Abstract

Stopping a viral outbreak like COVID-19 takes more than luck, it takes public health tools. Vaccines are considered to be one of the best public health tools, which is why there is often a rush to develop good vaccines for newly discovered viruses, particularly those that have the potential to infect lots of people. Recent examples include COVID-19, Zika virus, and Ebola. If enough people are vaccinated, an effective vaccine can help stop outbreaks or even eradicate (completely get rid of) a viral disease. But how many people are "enough," and what determines if a vaccine is "effective"? Using SimPandemic, a free online tool for modeling infectious outbreaks, you can examine these and related questions.

Start by working your way through the Using Vaccines to Fight Outbreaks notebook at SimPandemic. By the time you come to the Sandbox section and start running your own simulations of outbreaks, you will see that there are many questions you can model and investigate. For example:

  • Research what fraction of the population is willing to take a new COVID-19 vaccine. Given this information, how effective would a vaccine have to be in order to effectively fight the COVID-19 epidemic? How would the trajectory of an outbreak change if more people were vaccinated? What if fewer people were vaccinated?
  • Vaccination rates vary from community to community and country to country. Research vaccination rates for a virus that interests you like measles, polio, or rubella. Are the current vaccination rates high enough to prevent an outbreak? If not, how high do they need to be? If they are, how low can they drop before the community is at risk of an outbreak?
  • Vaccinating a population can be a huge undertaking and one where time is the enemy. It can take a lot of time and logistics to administer a large number of vaccine doses. It also takes time, often as much as two weeks, for a vaccine to induce immunity in individuals. If COVID-19, or another novel virus, is already in the community, how quickly would you need to vaccinate the population to stop an outbreak?

These are just a small sampling of the vaccine-related questions you can explore using SimPandemic. Give the tool a try and see what you can discover about how vaccines can be used to fight outbreaks.

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Credits

Sandra Slutz, PhD, Science Buddies

Cite This Page

General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Slutz, Sandra. "How Can Vaccines Be Used to Fight Outbreaks?" Science Buddies, 22 Oct. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/HumBio_p049/human-biology-health/vaccines-fight-outbreaks-simpandemic. Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

APA Style

Slutz, S. (2020, October 22). How Can Vaccines Be Used to Fight Outbreaks? Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/HumBio_p049/human-biology-health/vaccines-fight-outbreaks-simpandemic


Last edit date: 2020-10-22

Experimental Procedure

For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project Yes, I Did This Project! Please log in (or create a free account) to let us know how things went.

Ask an Expert

The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.

Ask an Expert

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