How young people can help respond to the coronavirus outbreak

youth covid

(Jens Johnsson, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Natalie Pierce, Interactions and Programming Lead, Global Shapers Community, Foundations, World Economic Forum


As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads around the world, Global Shapers are stepping up and taking action in more than 50 countries. Global Shapers, a network of young leaders under the age of 30, have already started sharing basic protective measures with their communities, translating vital resources into local languages, and launching campaigns to fight xenophobia and misinformation.

Rather than resorting to fear or panic, our members are providing a more impactful response: informing themselves and helping others. To join their efforts and do your part, follow three simple actions:

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has launched a new community, bringing together experts from the World Health Organization with business leaders around the world, which will hold regular virtual meetings to boost collaboration.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the Coronavirus.

1. Stay informed and ensure others do too.

As fear spreads faster than facts, inform yourself about the virus. Deepen your knowledge and point others to trusted information. This will go a long way to debunk myths and build resilience in your community.

Not sure where to start? The World Economic Forum has a continuously updated platform for information on the crisis, with insights from the World Health Organization (WHO) and its global network of experts.

If you or your hub want to take action, enrol in the WHO’s open online course that provides a general introduction to COVID-19 and how to protect yourself and others. Courses are free: know the facts before you act.

2. Take action to keep your community safe.

When you’re young and healthy, your risk of developing severe illness is lower. So consider those in your community who are most vulnerable, including older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes). Do your best to support them.

Encourage others to take precautions, including washing your hands regularly, keeping a social distance from others and staying home when you’re sick. Basic actions like this can help limit the virus’ spread and its impact on public health, society and the economy.

Help us spread the word and join the WHO’s cross-platform campaign #BeReady, which is backed by the World Economic Forum and the Global Shapers Community. Use the social media kit to share accurate information locally and follow @WEF and @GlobalShapers accounts for daily content. Use the hashtag #ShapingHealth and #PreventionOverPanic in your own posts.

Translate content into local languages and complement online activity with direct outreach and measures.

3. Speak up to ensure your organisation does the right thing.

Organisations and employers play a big role in combating the virus. Encourage your office to take precautions: for example, ensure spaces are clean and hygienic, promote regular hand-washing, test remote working and communicate clearly to employees.

There is no hierarchy to doing what’s right. You can be an influencer in your organisation by passing on vetted business messages from the WHO, focusing on accuracy and relevance, and acting collectively.

It is our responsibility as Global Shapers to help others and build more resilient, inclusive and informed communities. If you’re taking action, we want to know and help you. Share your actions and get involved by completing this form.

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