Stanford scholars and researchers lend their expertise to tackling the COVID-19 crisis

More than 9 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and the numbers keep steadily rising.

This page is updated regularly to present ongoing work and insights. It was last updated June 23.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be an unprecedented crisis, even as infections and deaths begin to ebb in parts of the world. In the United States, virtually all aspects of people’s lives have changed through shelter-in-place and social distancing orders, massive layoffs, stock market uncertainty and the sudden need to balance work and family responsibilities in new ways – all while many thousands continue to fall ill and, in some cases, to die. Politicians and civil servants wrestling trying to balance the need to isolate with the need to socialize, have opened and then sometimes community gathering spots.

Stanford scholars have been involved in addressing the immediate – and continuing – medical challenges created by the pandemic. They have aggressively pivoted their research to aid in the effort to understand the virus and to create COVID-19 tests, vaccines, protocols and treatments.

Beyond addressing the scientific, technical and medical challenges of the pandemic, Stanford scholars have also been considering the wider societal, economic and legal implications in recognition that life as we know it is likely forever changed.

As is its legacy, Stanford is applying its interdisciplinary expertise in the hopes of ensuring an equitable recovery for all people and offering solutions that can be scaled to benefit the world. 

Below is a sampling of the ongoing work and perspectives.

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Social context of COVID-19

The challenges posed by COVID-19 go beyond those related to health and medicine. As the pandemic subsides, a changed world will emerge that requires study and consideration. Nations worldwide will have to work to ensure that the recovery is equitable for all and that humanity is better prepared to act the next time a pandemic occurs.

Pandemic press: Stanford alumni journalists at the frontlines of COVID-19

Stanford alumni journalists describe how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their profession and what they are seeing on the frontlines.

Who we are depends on where we are

A new study found that places can change people’s personality, and the opposite is also true: Certain personalities are drawn to different places.

The graceful exit

How to shutter a business when the pandemic forces closure.

Combating black plague was just as much about politics as it was science

The inability of 14th-century medicine to stop the plague from destroying societies throughout Europe and Asia helped advance scientific discovery and transformed politics and health policy, says Stanford historian Paula Findlen.

How pandemics catalyze social and economic change

Throughout recorded history, pandemics have been effective levelers of social and economic inequality – but that might not be the outcome this time around, says Stanford historian Walter Scheidel.

Equity and inclusion key issues in new work-life balance

With work, school and family life all taking place in our homes, the challenges may be greater for women, according to a focus group consisting of corporate and nonprofit leaders convened by Stanford’s VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab.

Contagion, xenophobia and leadership

Infectious diseases such as COVID-19 trigger both disgust and fear. Combined, those can trigger a misguided search for a scapegoat.

Why people didn’t social distance

The Stanford-led study found the most common reasons people did not follow social distancing recommendations were work requirements, mental and physical health concerns and beliefs that other precautions were enough.

Stanford crowdsources county-level COVID-19 policy data

By asking volunteers across the country to describe local shelter-in-place policies, computer scientists hope to provide the up-to-date information epidemiologists will need to advise government officials on when and how to start easing restrictions and allow Americans to resume daily life.

Stanford researchers help develop privacy-focused coronavirus alert app

Covid Watch is a smartphone app that allows an infected person to send an anonymous alert to others with the same app whom they may have infected.

Motivation, provenance of disinformation is pivotal in news reporting

Stanford scholars Janine Zacharia and Andrew Grotto discuss strategies for reporters and editors to write about disinformation, leaked material and propaganda in a responsible and timely way.

Modeling social distancing’s impact

Biologist Erin Mordecai discusses different social distancing strategies, how long we may need to maintain them and the risk of a disease resurgence if precautions are lifted too early.

COVID-19 in a world made ripe for pandemics

Emerging infectious diseases have become more likely – and more likely to be consequential – partly as a result of how people move around the planet and relate to the natural world.

New outbreak, familiar anxieties

Stanford historian Kathryn Olivarius discusses her research into antebellum New Orleans and how the yellow fever epidemic shaped the region economically and socially – at a devastating and deadly cost.

Coronavirus misperceptions widespread in early weeks, according to Stanford study

Stanford Medicine conducted a quick online survey to test the public's current understanding of the coronavirus and to illustrate a useful way to gather data.

Why fake news about coronavirus is appealing (and how to avoid it)

Check health-related information about the coronavirus from established news sources rather than from shared stories in social media, advises Professor of Communication Jeff Hancock.

Pandemics and propaganda: How Chinese state media shapes conversations on the coronavirus

The Stanford Internet Observatory looks at how coronavirus narratives targeting English-speaking audiences have played out on Chinese state media.

How Taiwan used big data, transparency and a central command to protect its people from coronavirus

Stanford Health Policy’s Jason Wang, an associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medicine who also has a PhD in policy analysis, credits his native Taiwan with using new technology and a robust pandemic prevention plan put into place at the 2003 SARS outbreak.

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Staying healthy and productive

How will COVID-19 change the way we educate our young and provide for family and work balance in the future? The pandemic has turned our world inside out, robbing us of our interpersonal relationships and making online education and technological connections more important than ever. Stanford scholars have been applying their expertise to help with the current work and health challenges the pandemic poses, as well as anticipating what a post-pandemic world will look like.

With iPad, COVID-19 patients see the caregiver behind the mask

Isolated COVID-19 patients benefit from interaction via iPad in Stanford Health Care’s Marc and Laura Andreessen Emergency Department.

Inspiring connections while working apart

Research by Stanford psychologist Greg Walton shows how people don’t have to be physically together to still feel a sense of togetherness.

Beyond tests and quizzes: Getting creative with assessment during COVID-19

During this period of distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers are being challenged to find new ways of tracking how much their students understand.

Companies scrambled to set up virtual workspaces. Is this the future?

Remote-only organizations pose complex management challenges. Two scholars share their thoughts on how to navigate our sudden new reality.

Fighting isolation with the art of design and computer music

Ge Wang, associate professor of music who specializes in the art of design and computer music, is hosting a free, public, multi-format weekly series designed to help people through the remoteness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stress disrupts our ability to plan ahead

Pairing brain scans with virtual-navigation tasks, researchers found that people make less efficient and effective plans when stressed.

Connecting in the virtual college classroom

Digital learning experts at the GSE share tips to help instructors build community and collaboration while teaching remotely.

The productivity pitfalls of working from home in the age of COVID-19

Nicholas Bloom is widely known for his research showing the benefits of working from home. But in the current coronavirus crisis, the economist fears productivity will plummet.

Try “distant socializing” instead

The same technologies that people once blamed for tearing society apart might be our best chance of staying together during the COVID-19 outbreak, says Stanford’s Jamil Zaki.

Tips for coping with anxiety in the face of COVID-19

Rosan Gomperts, director of the Faculty Staff Help Center, discusses practical steps individuals can take to cope with anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upgrading lessons for kids at home during school closures

With schools across the country closing temporarily to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Stanford education scholar Denise Pope suggests ways to get K-12 students excited about learning at home.

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Applying scientific and medical expertise

Stanford researchers have quickly refocused their work to address the COVID-19 crisis. Their innovations have been widely adopted, from the development of novel ways of testing for COVID-19 to the modeling of the effects of social distancing. The challenges before society are significant in their complexity, requiring aggressive cooperation across disciplines. Stanford scientists, whose work has always been characterized by interdisciplinary cooperation, have responded. In areas ranging from engineering to medicine, they are focused on creating breakthrough technologies and new treatments and diagnostic tools that will benefit people worldwide.

Teaching Preventing Human Extinction course amidst COVID-19

Teaching students about the existential threat of a pandemic as they are living through one can help make the danger feel less hypothetical and much more real.

Stanford Medicine researchers lead clinical trial of interferon-lambda for COVID-19

Scientists at Stanford Medicine are investigating whether a molecule called interferon-lambda can help people with mild cases of COVID-19 feel better and reduce their transmission of the disease-causing virus.

Stanford statisticians work on different fronts to help understand and find solutions in the battle against COVID-19

Statistics experts are bringing their expertise in genetics, predictive modeling and novel drug design to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remdesivir, tested at Stanford Medicine, authorized for emergency use against COVID-19

Stanford Medicine researchers who participated in two separate clinical trials are encouraged by data indicating that remdesivir can treat COVID-19.

How a rapid field testing device could help head off future epidemics

Engineers are developing a portable field testing device that health care workers could use to quickly test for active infections of COVID-19 and other diseases.

Stanford student helps design ventilator for COVID-19 patients in Peru

First-year student Marcelo Peña has teamed up with researchers in his home country of Peru to develop a unique and affordable ventilator for treating patients with COVID-19.

SLAC joins the global fight against COVID-19

The lab is responding to the coronavirus crisis by imaging disease-related biomolecules, developing standards for reliable coronavirus testing and enabling other essential research.

Gastrointestinal symptoms common in COVID-19 patients, Stanford Medicine study reports

In one of the earliest studies of U.S. patients with the coronavirus, researchers found one-third of patients reported symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea and diarrhea.

Stanford researchers lead effort to build rapid-response ventilators

An effort to design and build new, simplified ventilators for patients with severe cases of COVID-19 is being led by researchers at Stanford.

Stanford researchers reengineer COVID-19 face masks

Stanford engineers have developed a new type of protective face mask that can counteract the side effects of oxygen deficiency.

Stanford Medicine launches national daily health survey to predict COVID-19 surges, inform response efforts

Stanford Medicine scientists have launched a national daily health survey to identify the prevalence of COVID-19 symptoms in communities across the United States. The goal is to predict surges and enable more informed response efforts.

Test for antibodies against novel coronavirus developed at Stanford Medicine

The new test screens for antibodies to the virus in plasma, the liquid in blood, to provide information about a person’s immune response to an infection.

Stanford researchers build calculators to assist in COVID-19 resource allocation

Researchers from Stanford Medicine and Engineering have created a set of calculators to help hospital and regional leaders throughout the country prepare for a possible surge in COVID-19 patients.

A researcher turns to data to fight the COVID-19 virus

An expert in bioinformatics describes how better information and modeling can help caregivers stay a step ahead of the new virus.

Understanding spread of disease from animals to human

In Uganda, loss of forested habitat increases the likelihood of interactions between disease-carrying wild primates and humans. The findings suggest the emergence and spread of viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, will become more common as the conversion of natural habitats into farmland continues worldwide.

Stanford Medicine offers high-priority COVID-19 testing and new app to first responders

Stanford Medicine is offering high-priority COVID-19 testing and a new screening and informational app to local police, firefighters and paramedics.

Open science in the era of COVID-19

Science moving forward without traditional forms of peer review could shorten the path to solutions – but it also increases the chances that low-quality science gets overhyped.

Stanford researchers help show it’s possible to reuse N95 masks

Researchers from Stanford and other universities scoured the scientific literature to create N95decon.org, a web portal that medical professionals can access for trustworthy information on how to decontaminate used N95 masks.

Artificial intelligence and COVID-19: How technology can understand, track and improve health outcomes

Scholars, practitioners, and experts across disciplines share what’s working and where research can help during HAI's virtual conference.

COVID-19 patients often infected with other respiratory viruses, preliminary study reports

A preliminary analysis finds that people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 are often co-infected with other respiratory viruses.

Understanding spread of COVID-19

Stanford professor Alexandria Boehm and visiting scholar Krista Wigginton describe potential transmission pathways of COVID-19 and their implications.

Stanford’s COVID-19 testing provided to Bay Area hospitals

Stanford’s test for COVID-19 is rapidly expanding capacity to serve patients in the Bay Area and beyond. Researchers hope to soon be able to process more than 1,000 tests per day.

Stanford Medicine COVID-19 test now in use

The Stanford Clinical Virology Laboratory has deployed an in-house diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19. Rapid identification of infected people could help limit the spread of the virus.

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Public policy, law and the economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented job loss, aggressive governmental action and reconsiderations to how to best meet the needs of citizens. The global economy is struggling, while governments and businesses are trying to innovate in the midst of crisis. Stanford scholars have been offering their recommendations and perspectives to how we can best cope from a political, legal and economic perspective in a way the results in an equitable future for all.

Home foreclosures can have devastating, long-term impacts

Stanford economist Rebecca Diamond compiled a unique dataset to uncover fresh research insights into foreclosure’s effects on homeowners, landlords and renters.

Stanford works with California prisons to test and prevent COVID-19

Stanford researchers are working to find strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among the incarcerated and inform mitigation strategies in other high-density living situations.

Resuming research during COVID-19

A perspective article co-authored by senior research officers from six leading research universities, including Stanford, argues for a gradual, stepwise approach to reopening of academic research that is informed by public health expertise.

How to keep supply chains reliable when the world’s upended

COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of global supply chains. Maybe it’s time to rethink government’s role.

Environment and energy after COVID-19

Global carbon dioxide emissions are down dramatically in the wake of COVID-19. A new study pinpoints where energy demand has dropped the most, estimates the impact on annual emissions and points the way to a less polluted future.

Privacy and COVID-19 tracing technology

Al Gidari of the Center for Internet and Society discusses the new tools and privacy concerns surrounding tech in contact tracing for COVID-19.

COVID-19 is having an immediate and alarming impact on Latino-owned businesses

In a Stanford survey, nearly two-thirds say they will be out of business in six months if current trends continue.

The 1930s Depression Was ‘Great.’ This One Might Be Greater

Economist Nicholas Bloom, who has spent years tracking “uncertainty shocks,” says this downturn be worse than what followed the financial crisis of 2008 and it could rival the Great Depression.

‘We can’t simply respond with a spirit of recuperation’: Remaking schools after COVID-19

On this episode of School's In, GSE Associate Professor Jonathan Rosa says the current crisis is an opportunity to address inequities in education.

Coordinated response needed to fight coronavirus pandemic

Without coordination within and across countries, the novel coronavirus will endlessly reemerge, with devastating consequences for public health and the global economy, says Stanford scholar Matthew Jackson.

Economists to Congress: Don’t bail out big business

An open letter drafted by Stanford professors says the coronavirus stimulus package should benefit workers — not corporations and their wealthy shareholders.

Stanford Law’s Bernadette Meyler on executive powers in times of crisis

Legal historian and constitutional law scholar Bernadette Meyers discusses the powers of the president and state governors to address the lack of critical medicines and diagnostic and medical supplies such as ventilators and N95 masks.

Is this the moment for universal basic income?

Stanford historian Jennifer Burns discusses how universal basic income could become a major discussion point in Washington D.C. as policymakers respond to the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic.

Launch of new modeling framework to investigate COVID-19

The Stanford-CIDE Coronavirus Simulation Model, or SC-COSMO, incorporates realistic demography and patterns to investigate resource planning and policy evaluations for diverse populations and geographies in California, Mexico and India.

Darrell Duffie on the financial markets in a coronavirus world

As a recession looms over the coronavirus pandemic, SIEPR Senior Fellow Darrell Duffie discusses the volatility of the financial markets and potential stabilizing measures.

Stanford Law’s Bill Gould on the coronavirus and weaknesses in the labor safety net

Labor law expert Professor William Gould discusses the challenges facing workers during this time of national crisis – and the gaps in America’s safety net leaving many vulnerable.

Q&A: Stanford Law’s Michelle Mello on regulating the spread of the coronavirus

Health law expert Michelle Mello discusses COVID-19 and how policy is being developed to contain its spread.