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When is a pandemic over?

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Consider the following scenario: a highly infectious, sometimes deadly respiratory virus infects humans for the first time. It spreads rapidly worldwide, and the WHO declares a pandemic. The death toll starts to rise and everyone is asking the same question: when will the pandemic end? Alex Rosenthal details the three main strategies governments can use to contain and end a pandemic.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Alex Rosenthal
  • Director Mateus Moretto
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Storyboard Artist Mateus Moretto
  • Animator Mateus Moretto, Luciano do Amaral
  • Art Director Mateus Moretto, Cláudio Reston
  • Sound Designer Adam Alexander, Gavin Dodds
  • Music Adam Alexander, Gavin Dodds
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Fact-checker Joseph Isaac
  • Science Consultant Nassim Assefi , Melvin Sanicas, Edsel Maurice T. Salvaña, David Biello, Merlin Sanicas, Alanna Shaikh
  • Special Thanks Alejandra Guzman
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
A deadly virus is spreading fast across the globe as the death toll keeps rising causing the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a pandemic. There are three main government and community tactics that can be used to slow down or stop this virus. Which one will be the most effective and quickest measure to eradicate this global pandemic?

Coronaviruses are groups of viruses that can be pathogenic for both animals and humans. The severe active respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus strain SARS-CoV is an example of a coronavirus which spread rapidly in the early 2000’s. The new strain of the virus that recently spread globally SARS-CoV-2 causes the coronavirus disease currently known as COVID-19. The first reported case was in December 2019 in Wuhan, a city in Hubei province of China. It is thought that this new strain originated from bats or pangolins. To learn more about how viruses can jump from animal to humans, check out this lesson.

Most people recover from the virus without special treatment. If symptoms do occur, they are very similar to flu-like symptoms such as fever and cough, but also may include difficulty breathing. The virus typically spreads through tiny droplets given out when breathing or coughing which can then enter the mouth or nasal cavity. However, there have been some reports of possibly contracting the disease from a nearby surface or object that has been touched by an infected person. In order to stop the global virus spread, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended the use of facial masks or coverings and maintaining physical distancing among other things. Hopefully soon scientists and researchers will be able to develop a vaccine which will help with treatment and potentially end or prevent the pandemic from spreading so rapidly in the future. Check out the World Health Organization (WHO) website to get the latest updates on the Coronavirus pandemic.

Believe it or not, this is not the first pandemic that has hit humanity. In the 15th century the Small Pox Virus was conquered and the information learned from eradicating Small Pox may help us as we currently combat the Coronavirus. Use this link to research and learn more about five other past pandemics.

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Alex Rosenthal
  • Director Mateus Moretto
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Storyboard Artist Mateus Moretto
  • Animator Mateus Moretto, Luciano do Amaral
  • Art Director Mateus Moretto, Cláudio Reston
  • Sound Designer Adam Alexander, Gavin Dodds
  • Music Adam Alexander, Gavin Dodds
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Fact-checker Joseph Isaac
  • Science Consultant Nassim Assefi , Melvin Sanicas, Edsel Maurice T. Salvaña, David Biello, Merlin Sanicas, Alanna Shaikh
  • Special Thanks Alejandra Guzman
  • See more