Everything You Need To Know About Viruses: A Quick Visual Explanation of Viruses in 9 Images

It’s a great time to tune in to what sci­en­tists are try­ing to tell us.

It’s true that we’ve received a lot of con­flict­ing infor­ma­tion over the last four months with regard to how to best pro­tect our­selves and oth­ers from COVID-19.

Sci­en­tists and health care pro­fes­sion­als have a learn­ing curve, too.

Their bul­letins evolve as their under­stand­ing of the nov­el coro­n­avirus grows, through research and hands-on expe­ri­ence.

There are still a lot of unknowns.

Some peo­ple take any evi­dence-based mes­sag­ing updates regard­ing masks and re-open­ing as proof that sci­en­tists don’t know their ass­es from their elbows.

To which we might counter, “If that’s the case, please take a minute from berat­ing the poor gro­cery store employ­ee who asked you to fol­low clear­ly post­ed state man­dat­ed pub­lic health prac­tices to edu­cate us. For­get the econ­o­my. For­get the elec­tion. Blind us with some sci­ence. Pre­tend we don’t know any­thing and hit us with some hard­core facts about virus­es. We’re lis­ten­ing.”


Sci­ence writer Dominic Wal­li­man, founder of the Domain of Sci­ence Youtube  chan­nel, may have a PhD in quan­tum device physics, but he also had the humil­i­ty to real­ize, ear­li­er in the pan­dem­ic, that he didn’t know much about virus­es:

So I did a load of research and have sum­ma­rized what I learned in… nine images. This video (above) explains the key aspects of virus­es: how big they are, how they infect and enter and exit cells, how virus­es are clas­si­fied, how they repli­cate, and sub­jects involv­ing viral infec­tions like how they spread from per­son to per­son, how our immune sys­tem detects and destroys them and how vac­cines and anti-viral drugs work.

Wal­li­man ani­mates his 10-minute overview with the same bright info­graph­ics he uses to help stu­dents and laypeo­ple wrap their heads around com­put­er sci­ence, biol­o­gy, chem­istry, physics, and math.

The virus video has been fact-checked by immu­nol­o­gist Michael Bramhall and biol­o­gist Christoph von Arx.

And how refresh­ing to see trans­paren­cy with regard to human error, pub­lished as a cor­rec­tive:

In slide 9 tox­in vac­cines are for bac­te­r­i­al infec­tions like tetanus, not virus­es. 

For those who’d like to learn more, Wal­li­man has tacked a whop­ping 15 links onto the episode’s descrip­tion, from sources such as Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­canNatureStan­ford Medicine’s Scope blog, and the Nation­al Cen­ter for Biotech­nol­o­gy Infor­ma­tion.

Down­load a free poster of Domain of Science’s Virus­es Explained in 9 Images here.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Spring Break vs. COVID-19: Map­ping the Real Impact of Ignor­ing Social Dis­tanc­ing

A Chill­ing Time-Lapse Video Doc­u­ments Every COVID-19 Death on a Glob­al Map: From Jan­u­ary to June 2020

The Case for a Uni­ver­sal Basic Income in the Time of COVID-19

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her lat­est project is an ani­ma­tion and a series of free down­load­able posters relat­ed to COVID-19 pub­lic health Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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