Covid-19 knows no borders. Neither does science communication – coming together in the time of coronavirus to provide accessible, multilingual, scientific information in the face of a crisis. 

This afternoon I played games with family members from across the country – over Zoom. And that’s just one example of ways in which I have been connecting with people while remaining physically isolated. Of course, I already knew (and love) my family. But lately I’ve also been getting to know and love people I’ve never even met in real life. And it’s thanks to this international project to make Covid-19 scientific information accessible, which the IUBMB (International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) has been helping me with. 

It started with a single post, explaining the science behind traditional coronavirus testing. My colleague, Katie Meze, asked if she could translate it into her native language, Slovenian, to help inform her friends and family. That gave me the idea to see if other people might be interested in translating the infographics into additional languages. Turns out they were! With the help of the IUBMB and these social media platforms people love to hate I have received over 40 volunteers!

Last week I introduced you to some of them – I thought it would be all of them – but then the post spurred on another round of volunteers. So today I wanted to do another thank you post to highlight them (at the bottom and in the slides). Some of their translations are still in the works so you’ll have to stay tuned, but I have been able to add additional translations to my blog since last week. You can find them all here: 

Last week I hit an exciting milestone – my infographics on “traditional diagnostic tests” for Covid-19 are now available in 2 dozen languages. I’m really excited because it means that people around the world can use them to better understand the science of how these diagnostic tests work. The gist is that they spot active disease using a method called RT-PCR to make lots of copies of viral genetic information that get detected by a machine. And now, thanks to generous volunteers, people can get the gist and more in their native language. 

I’m super excited to have posted our first African language translation – the Yoruba translation comes courtesy of Ibidate Jawonisi, Ph.D., who works as a biochemist at Kaduna Polytechnic in Nigeria, West Africa. 

Additionally, this past week I was able to add Catalan (thanks to Sergi López-Torres @sergiloptor); Farsi (thanks to Mahsa Heidari @_biochemtech_ & Kaveh Daneshvar @kaveh_dan); Nepali (thanks to Barshana Karki @beemeetsart); Bulgarian (thanks to Dayana Hristova @dayanahri); and Macedonian (thanks to Jovana Stojceska @jovana_stojceska). 

Additionally, I have added translations of infographics explaining serological tests, which are the “surveillance tests” that look for antibodies in your blood indicating that you had the infection in the past (or are in the later stages of the infection). These types of tests can’t detect early-stage disease, so they aren’t very useful for figuring out who’s contagious, but they are useful for figuring out who might be immune to re-infection and who might be able to donate antibody-filled blood to help out people who are currently sick (an experimental therapy called convalescent sera treatment). 

Another major benefit to these tests is that they can help epidemiologists better understand the disease – how it spreads, who’s hardest hit, what true mortality rates are, etc. And now, translations of my serological test infographics are available in in Greek (thanks to Nefeli Boni-Kazantzidou); Spanish (thanks to Natalia Ríos Colombo @natirioscolombo); Indonesian (thanks to Septia Nurmala @septiaanrml); and Italian (thanks to Micol Bonetti @bonettmi). 

Thank you’s round 2 – volunteers whom I didn’t know to thank yet last week :). Thank you to 

  • Ibitade Jawonisi (Yoruba)
  • Barshana Karki @beemeetsart (Nepali)
  • Kaveh Daneshvar @kaveh_dan (Farsi)
  • Nipuna Weerasinghe (නිපුන වීරසිංහ) @Nipuna_ (Sinhalese)
  • Shiori Harima @_.shiorima._ (Japanese)
  • May Vilailuck @maistele (Thai)

Additionally, I’d like to say thank you to all the “essential workers” (everyone from janitors to fast food workers to nurses and doctors) and to everyone. And thank you to everyone else who’s doing their part to slow the disease spread and keep our healthcare systems from getting overloaded by practicing “social distancing.”  If you can, stay apart but stand together! Let’s flatten the curve!

Additionally, huge thanks to the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (@theIUBMB). Now, more than ever, as we face an international (and biochemistry-related) crisis, I am incredibly grateful to be able to serve as Student Ambassador for the IUBMB, whose president-elect Dr. Alexandra Newton has helped me recruit translators and share the translated versions around the world. This post was just one in my series of weekly “Bri*fings from the Bench”

more on topics mentioned (& others) #365DaysOfScience All (with topics listed) 👉 

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