1. Testing for coronavirus has become one of the main news stories in 2020
Why are governments not testing large samples of population? Why have front line health workers not been tested? How are testing kits provided? What do test kits measure? COVID-19. In the political arguments over COVID-19, testing is always there as a main issue. These links help you to understand some of the issues. Start with this short video which provides quick introduction.
Test kits have been one of the main ways to determine if a patient has coronavirus, but results from throat-swab tests can be inaccurate. Wall Street Journal short report. Visit to a lab in Singapore to see how the kits work and find out why there are questions over accuracy.
2. The importance of reliable sources of information
Testing for the virus is our subject, but before we look at that, how do we test the reliability of information we find about this subject? The standard way we all use the Internet – the lazy way – is to “google” our way into a subject. We all do it, and there is a time and place for Google, mainly when we go shopping! We are not shopping now: that’s for another day, when the lock down finishes soon!
Please do not Google when gathering your information for something like COVID-19/Coronavirus. One click of Google and you are into a world of ideas that is a hundred million times bigger than the 24-volume encyclopedia that used to be standard reference in a school library just 25 years ago! Most of that stuff on the internet will be written by people who have no expertise in the subject.
Some of that web content will be simply WRONG, and some of it a dangerous mixture of OPINION peppered with a few FACTS which is the standard way of cooking up FAKE NEWS. Would you believe this…? People are right now setting fire to 5G phone masts in the UK because they have seen misleading stories on the internet and believe the virus is caused by microwave signals. You could have no better example of why you need to be careful with your sources! So test your sources of information.
Just as testing the for the virus is important to understanding the pandemic, testing for truth and accuracy should be standard for you, hoping to enter university and begin higher education.
3. Our World in Data: example of a reliable source
Let’s take as our example of a reliable source the free-use data site Our World in Data. That link opens in a separate tab which is the HOME page of the website (but keep this tab open to come back ) Take a look at the new tab and scroll down the page and see where you have landed: find out who are the people running the site. Then close that tab and return here.
What did you find? You should have seen that you were walking around a main information hub centred in Oxford University. Under various subject headings you may have seen photos and names of dozens of university researchers and postgraduates contributing to the site. You might even have smelled the coffee from one of the world’s best bookshops in the centre of Oxford, a main global seat of learning.
Tick all the boxes, folks: you have arrived at reliable information. Do something like this please, with everything you find about COVID-19 on the internet and do not set fire to any phone masts: for those were the people who just used Google.
4. Our World in Data / global testing
It is very important to get reliable facts about this virus which has changed our lives. A main information hub is the Our World in Data site we have been testing for accuracy above: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-testing and here is their mission statement:
“Our goal at Our World in Data is to provide testing data over time for many countries around the world. We have started with this effort and will expand it in the coming days. Our aim is to provide alongside the data a good understanding of the definitions used and any important limitations they might have.”
Your work in PSHE – whatever you make of your tasks – now has the potential to be just as informed by reliable facts as the professionals at the very centre of the battle to control and eradicate the virus. That deserves a moment of pause to consider just how lucky you are to live in a world of globally available information, which is only as good as the way you use it. Give yourself a round of applause and go and rehydrate. You are indoors most of the time and rehydration is important for your brain function!
5. Week 2 PSHE COVID-19 scheme of work for Key Stage 4. Homework exercise:
Statement: Testing is our window onto the pandemic and how it is spreading. Without testing we have no way of understanding the pandemic. Your task is simply to write developed answers to the following three questions. A developed answer could be two or three paragraphs only.
- How does testing work: in other words what is the method for identifying infected individuals?
- How does testing for COVID-19 inform our understanding of the pandemic and the risks it poses in different populations.
- Looking at Our World in Data up-to-date information for today published here https://github.com/owid/covid-19-data/tree/master/public/data/ The charts shown here are the daily number of tests, or people tested, per thousand people. Describe what you see in the testing results for different countries. Name the countries and say what you see as the differences in the steepness of the graph, and the numbers involved. This will show you the importance of testing, because the task of ‘describing what you see’ is observation based on data.
- EXTENSION TASK: If you have completed 1 -3 give yourself a pat on the back and you have finished. If you really are keen to do more now, OK, let’s go for it! Interpret the information: What can we learn from these measures about the pandemic?
If you find this a challenging question, and it should be (this is an extension task, after all!) return to the page we started on https://ourworldindata.org/covid-testing and scroll down to the heading which is exactly this same question; and just summarise what you read in three sentences. Thank you for completing the extension task: you are now a super-informed responsible member of the global team combating COVID-19. That team is all of us!