Published: 03/23/2020

Stanford Director of Health Education Outreach Maya Adam, a clinical assistant professor in Pediatrics, created a short animated video to illustrate how the novel coronavirus—the virus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19—is transmitted and how transmission can be prevented. You can see the video here.

Q and A with Dr. Adam

What inspired you to create the video?

I know that Stanford Medicine is eager to find ways to make evidence-based health messages available to people across the country and beyond our borders as well. I was trying to explore innovative ways to communicate some important messages around COVID-19 such that the content could “go global” without adaptation, which can be time consuming.

What problems or challenges can the video help to overcome?

The video aims primarily to reach those who don’t yet quite understand the importance of their own social responsibility in preventing the spread of the corona virus. Young, healthy people are often challenging to effectively reach with public health messaging because they don’t see the immediate implications of their actions. This video aims to transmit a sense of urgency and personal responsibility, while still being playful and engaging for younger audiences to watch.

What were the challenges in making it?

It was challenging to find ways of showing the health recommendations without any words. The animator who worked on this with me, Nic Smal, is a South African who had some very creative visual solutions for some of the challenges we faced. Juan Pablo Naranjo, a sound designer based in Mexico, did the sound effects.

Who was on the team and what were their roles in creating the video?

I wrote the wordless script and directed the production. Nic Smal, in Cape Town, did the animation. I received valuable formative guidance at the beginning from Dr. Bonnie Maldonado and Priya Singh at the School of Medicine. Countless colleagues and friends weighed in after the first video prototypes were developed, including colleagues at the Center for Health Education and the Stanford Health Communication Initiative. The Mentor Mothers at the Philani Maternal Child Health and Nutrition trust in South Africa also shared their feedback via WhatsApp. I am grateful to them all.