How scientists can volunteer to help fight COVID-19

20 April 2020


Scientists are offering tools, equipment, time, and expertise to help alleviate COVID-19 suffering. Here’s how you can chip in.

Around the world, bench scientists other than those actively studying the pandemic have largely been forced to scale back or even shut down their experiments out of COVID-19 precautions. But that doesn’t mean their skills and expertise can’t contribute to the worldwide effort to address the disease.

In March, a postdoc at Harvard University created a national database where scientists can list their skills as well as available equipment in hopes of being matched with other scientists who could use their support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of scientists have signed up, and there are many other ways to help as well, from donating supplies to reviewing literature to answering questions about the virus submitted by members of the general public.

Things scientists can do from anywhere

  • Review and comment on preprints related to COVID-19
  • Review literature on strategies to decontaminate N95 face masks
  • Develop tools to mine COVID-19 data for important insights.
  • Design and develop efficient and inexpensive ventilators
  • Design and build useful technologies and equipment such as hardware, software, and masks
  • Research and answer COVID-19 questions from the general public online
  • Sign up and list your skills to be matched with researchers looking for extra help answering questions, transcribing data, and more
  • Use 3-D printers at your institution to print personal protective equipment (PPE). Rowan University has shared designs for masks.

Ways to donate supplies from labs

Many universities have organized drives for laboratories and surrounding businesses to donate PPE such as masks, face shields, and gowns to healthcare workers. Others are collecting RNA testing kits and reagents. Scientists can check with their institutions or the broader lists below.

  • Get us PPE
  • Find the Masks
  • RNA testing kits

Local programs

Many institutions and universities have worked to organize volunteers who are able to chip in, from laboratory work to phone calls to child care. A few are listed below.

  • Covid-19 Student Service Corps (CSSC) organizes student volunteers to support healthcare workers with child care, teaching support, phone follow-ups with patients, and more. If your university hasn’t set up a CSSC chapter, a starter toolkit is available.
  • Students in Minnesota are providing childcare for health workers.
  • George Washington University in Washington, DC, has compiled a list of volunteer opportunities from contact tracing to lab work and acting as a medical scribe.

Published by on April 13, 2020
Image from Shutterstock 


Sign up

    Fill in your contact details to sign up for our newsletter.