Confronting COVID-19

Before COVID-19 was even declared a pandemic, Harvard Chan faculty accelerated research to inform decision makers around the world. They haven’t stopped.

From predicting the spread of COVID-19 and its variants to informing vaccine policy, Harvard Chan faculty continue to strengthen efforts to slow the spread of the virus and save lives across the globe. They have been among the most trusted experts during the pandemic, consulting for 36 U.S. federal, state, and local governments, as well as 14 countries. In the past year alone, the Harvard Chan School academic community developed more than 590 COVID-19-focused research projects.

Immediate Response, Sustaining Impact


Our thought-leading faculty experts; our deep bench in epidemiologic response; our networks across Harvard and the biomedical ecosystem; and our global partnerships in government, academia, and health give us a unique capacity to respond quickly and intelligently to crises.

You can help mobilize laboratories and supercomputers, people and programs to focus on immediate impact. Discretionary funds enable the flexibility to quickly deploy dollars where they are most needed. In the race to understand and curb COVID-19, your investment will immediately yield lives saved.

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Preventing the Next Pandemic

As we continue to respond to the ever-evolving coronavirus pandemic, we are also leveraging our learnings to prepare for, and hopefully prevent, future threats to human health. Here are just a few examples of the many faculty members and researchers leading the way.

Building Virus Knowledge for Rapid Vaccine Development

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, played a key role in developing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center. Now at the Harvard Chan School, she’s turning to the pathogens that may spark the next pandemic. By creating a solid body of knowledge about different viral families as she did for coronaviruses, researchers will be ready to respond when one begins to threaten human health.

Leveraging Live Data for Decision-Making with CrisisReady

Caroline Buckee, professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, led the creation of the COVID-19 Mobility Data Network early in the pandemic to help translate location data from mobile devices to public health decision makers. This framework was also used to assist with hurricane and wildfire evacuations in the U.S. Now, Buckee and Satchit Balsari, assistant professor in the Department of Global Health and Population, have expanded the network into CrisisReady, a platform that will embed data-driven decision-making into local disaster planning around the world.

Advising Schools, Governments, and Corporations on How to Operate Safely

Throughout the pandemic, Associate Professor of Exposure Assessment Science Joseph Allen has been advocating that cleaner indoor air will improve not only our respiratory health, but also our cognition and productivity. He is co-director of the new Harvard Chan program specifically designed for business leaders, Leading in a health-first era: A public health foundation for business success.

Wafaie Fawzi, Richard Saltonstall Professor of Population Sciences, and professor of nutrition, epidemiology, and global health, led a series of six studies in sub-Saharan Africa that found lockdowns and dedensification policies had serious consequences for nutrition and health and exacerbated existing inequities. This research formed the basis for policy briefs on pandemic food security, mental health, and other topics.

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Free Public Events

The Harvard Chan Studio is the hub for the School’s premiere live and livestreamed events. We convene global leaders in health policy, advocacy, industry, and research for insightful conversations about public health’s most pressing challenges and most promising solutions. The Studio has hosted over fifty virtual COVID-focused events from understanding long COVID to school safety.

Podcasts featuring Faculty and Researchers

We’re better off with mRNA vaccines

The technology that is helping us combat COVID-19 is also poised to help us tackle tough infectious and non-infectious diseases. Sarah Fortune, Chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, explains how these vaccines work, and how the mRNA platform could transform the prevention and treatment of deadly diseases. In this episode of “Better Off,” she takes on common misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines and discusses the ways that mRNA technology could be used to create vaccines for diseases like tuberculosis and cancer.

We’re better off when we stop pandemics before they start

When Aaron (Ari) Bernstein met his first pediatric patient infected with COVID-19, he realized that this little girl’s health was connected to an infected bat on the other side of the world. Climate change and deforestation have made it easier for new pathogens to spread across the globe. In this episode of “Better Off,” Ari Bernstein, interim director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), explains how protecting the environment could also secure the future of our own species.

Additional Tools

How We Feel App

The How We Feel app tracks COVID-19 in local communities, helping scientists better understand and fight the pandemic in the U.S. The app, a product of The How We Feel (HWF) Project, was created by a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary team of volunteer researchers, including Professor of Biostatistics Xihong Lin. To date, the HWF app has over 700,000 users and more than 12 million responses. This data is aggregated and shared with researchers and public health agencies who study the epidemiological characteristics, transmission dynamics, interventions, and physical and mental profiles to gain important insights about combatting the disease.

COVID-19 Risk Calculator

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world often ask themselves the same question as they head into various buildings and scenarios: What changes can we make to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission? To help provide some insight into this question, the Harvard Healthy Buildings Program has created this tool to help you gain an understanding of how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in indoor environments using affordable control strategies.

COVID-19 Resources for India

Through this communications toolkit, the India Research Center and Project SANCHAR provide partners, affiliates, and citizens with shareable easy-to-understand facts, myth busters, and guidelines on COVID-19 prevention and mitigation and on maintaining physical and emotional well-being. This toolkit is meant to serve as a useful resource for all and allows users to access and disseminate evidence-based, accurate information.