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News

21 February 2022

Inquisitive pupil investigates Covid when ill with virus

Eric in Year 8 caught Covid at the start of the spring term and was therefore required to isolate. During his time at home, his curiosity got the best of him and Eric decided to run an experiment on the behaviour of the Covid-19 virus.

Eric summarised his findings and shared it with his teachers and Professor Christopher Chiu from the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London who was delighted by Eric’s enthusiasm for Science experiments.

“During the third week of school in January, I contracted Covid-19 and I had to stay home for 10 days. As I started to feel better, my scientific mind reappeared, so a few days into my isolation I started to conduct some experiments with Covid-19.

I was curious (and still am) about how Covid-19 behaves, spreads and how long it stays on different surfaces. I started experimenting with different surfaces and then collecting samples from them.

I exposed a toothpaste tube, a bottle of water that I drunk from and my dog Kasie to my cough. I then swabbed each one of them and all three tested negative. I then started to question the results, so I started to conduct more testing. I swabbed my lips and they tested negative. Then, I swabbed my throat and was amazed to see it tested negative. I tested my nostril (but only at the entrance) and the test came positive within a few seconds.

I repeated the same tests with my mum who developed symptoms three days after me and the results mirrored mine.

My conclusion after conducting this experiment is that after a few days, the Covid-19 virus is only concentrated in your nostrils and the concentration drops dramatically in the throat. Thus, you can only spread it from particles in your nose (as you expel air through the nose as well), but particles expelled by speaking or sharing food will not spread Covid-19.

A week after I conducted my experiment, I read an article about an experiment that Professor Christopher Chiu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, conducted. I was amazed to see that one of his conclusions was the same as mine. I reached out to Professor Chiu and it was great to get a lovely response from him – he was impressed with my experiment and advised on various elements of it. Great minds think alike!”

– Eric (Year 8)

Eric and his family have all recovered since catching Covid. Many thanks to Eric for sharing his experiment and to his mother for kindly granting permission for the research to be published on the John Lyon website. Well done, Eric, a scientist in the making!