American University of Beirut

Simplifying complex scientific research for the public is an art of public health

​​​​​In March 2020, Mirvat Termos felt very sick. She tested positive for COVID-19. Her symptoms were bad—difficulty breathing, extreme muscle pain, brain fog, and nausea, to name a few. Getting up from bed was a daily struggle for her. Mirvat recalls, “It was as if I forgot how to breathe!" She was in agonizing pain.

Lying in her bed skimming through social media, Mirvat was troubled to see many people's posts underestimating COVID-19 infection and describing it as a simple flu. Some even went as far as mentioning that the infection does not exist. Mirvat felt a burning need to share her experience with others- to tell them that the infection does exist and that its implications are serious!

A year after recovering from COVID-19 infection, Mirvat's symptoms were still there. Who knew that the vaccine would be the cure for her pain? “I was a long- hauler. A year after I caught the infection, I was still feeling pain all over my body. This pain resolved two weeks after I got my vaccine. When I heard Dr. Iwasaki talking about that, I understood what might have happened. Apparently, my body continued to have a non-detectable viral reserve that was stuck in my system and the vaccine got this resolved. Now, I am back to normal!" said Mirvat.

Mirvat started her posts on her social media accounts by declaring catching the infection and describing her excruciating journey with COVID-19. Ever since, she has been adamant about demystifying COVID-19 scientific research. She would spend many hours daily reading scientific articles, reports, and data about COVID-19. She would then post simplified excerpts of her readings on her social media. When asked about her goal, Mirvat replies, “I don't want to change people's minds. My goal is to direct them to useful and reliable source of information, so that they can take informed decisions."

Mirvat is astonished by the reactions of her readers and their eagerness to know more. People are desperate for reliable information that they can understand. Her followers have started to refer their friends to her whenever someone has a question about COVID-19. Her social media have started to grow organically. Mirvat happily replies to all the inquiries she receives, even if it means spending hours searching for the answer. Her prize is the joy she feels whenever she hears that someone has benefited from her posts.

Although COVID-19 pandemic incited Mirvat to promote this information through her social media, her interest in public health is not new. She remembers, “I always wanted to help others and act as a reliable source of information to promote individuals' health. That's what got me into public health and that's why I've chosen the Health Promotion and Community Health track in the MPH program. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a speaker and a promoter of health." Mirvat notes that she plans to delve into health communication and health policy in the future, which was not a field that she thought she is going to pursue pre-COVID. She has realized that this is where her heart lies.

Through her diligent work, Mirvat is helping others protect and enhance their health and the health of their loved ones. This is the Art of Public Health! An art that has many facets, one of which is health promotion through innovative means. Mirvat has found her passion. Have you found yours?​​​

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