K S Lane debated at a high-school level for four years and enjoys following debates online.
Coming up with a debate topic that has logical arguments on both sides and is unique enough to be challenging is difficult. Debate topics about current events are often the most interesting and allow for ideas to be drawn from media coverage and everyday conversations.
In this sense, the COVID-19 pandemic is a good source of engaging debate topics for students. This article lists over 50 interesting coronavirus-related debate topics that are perfect for students in middle school, high school, or college.
For more debate topic ideas on a breadth of different subjects, check out the article 100+ Interesting Debate Topics.
What Makes a Good Debate Topic?
A good debate topic must always have two obvious opposing sides. Both of these sides must be able to make clear, feasible arguments. In contrast to this, a bad debate topic may not have two obvious sides or may have one side that is very difficult to argue.
In the example above, the first debate topic can be split into two opposing sides, and both sides have rational arguments that can be made. This topic would make for an interesting and nuanced debate.
The second debate topic, however, doesn't have two clear opposing sides and would thus likely make for a confusing debate where the two sides may actually be arguing the same things.
The third debate topic, while having two clear sides, is skewed heavily towards one side. The negative side would have significant difficulty coming up with arguments, meaning that they would be at a disadvantage.
How to Structure a Debate
Debates generally follow a standard structure. There are six speakers in total, three from each side, and they'll take turns presenting their arguments and rebutting the arguments of their opponents. The format is as follows:
1. First Affirmative Speaker
The first affirmative speaker is the first to speak in the whole debate. They must introduce and define the topic and introduce the affirmative team's overarching view. They must then present arguments (typically two) in favour of their team's case. This speaker doesn't need to do any rebuttal, so it's a good role for someone who's a strong speaker but doesn't enjoy rebutting.
2. First Negative Speaker
The first negative speaker must either agree with the affirmative team's definition of the topic or, in unusual circumstances, may challenge it. They then introduce their team's position, rebut the arguments that the first affirmative speaker put forward, and then make their own arguments.
3. Second Affirmative Speaker
Read More From Owlcation
The second affirmative speaker rebuts the arguments put forward by the first negative speaker. After rebuttal, they'll present the final arguments from the affirmative side (typically two or three).
4. Second Negative Speaker
The second negative speaker may rebut the arguments of the second affirmative and any arguments by the first affirmative that their teammate failed to address. They then present the final arguments for the negative team.
5. Third Affirmative Speaker
The third affirmative speaker must rebut the second negative speaker's arguments. They may then also rebut the arguments of the first affirmative speaker that were missed. The third speaker should not introduce any new arguments, but rather sum up the arguments given by their teammates, and should finish with a firm conclusion that reiterates their team's case.
6. Third Negative Speaker.
The third negative rebuts arguments by the first and second negative teams, gives a summary of their teammate's arguments, and then gives a conclusion. This is a powerful role, as the second negative speaker rounds off the debate.
For a more in-depth look at debate structure and for tips on how to form arguments, check out the article How to Write a Debate.
Coronavirus Debate Topics Should be Handled Sensitively
While the point of a good debate topic is to be controversial and spark discussion, debate topics themed around coronavirus can be especially polarising.
There is a huge disparity in what people believe about the pandemic; some see it as nothing but a hoax, while others see it as the most deadly event in human history. People who fall into one of these two different camps have difficulty communicating their views with each other, which only leads to further disconnect. Healthy debate, when done right, may help to bridge this gap, but if you're going to attempt such a debate be aware that many have strong views regarding some of the topics listed in this article.
More importantly, many have lost loved ones due to the pandemic, meaning that the subject can be highly distressing. Take this into account when selecting a coronavirus-related debate topic and understand that strong feelings may arise during the course of your debate.
Best Coronavirus Debate Topics
- Should vaccination be mandatory?
- The biggest threat of the coronavirus pandemic is not its fatality. Discuss.
- Global response to the coronavirus pandemic has been overblown. Discuss.
- Has COVID-19 had a more significant effect than the bubonic plague?
- People should be less worried about the pandemic. Discuss.
- The loneliness caused by social distancing is more dangerous than COVID-19 itself. Discuss.
Vaccination Debate Topics
- Should countries share vaccine doses?
- Should people be granted exemption from vaccination because of religion?
- Employers shouldn't be able to fire workers because they're anti-vaccination. Discuss.
- Individual liberty is more important than social responsibility. Discuss.
- Do vaccine mandates infringe on individual liberty?
Mask Mandate Debate Topics
- Should we continue to wear masks after the pandemic?
- Do mask requirements infringe on liberty?
- People should not complain about wearing masks. Discuss.
- Should children under 12 have to wear masks?
Science Debate Topics
- Scientists are not taken seriously enough. Discuss.
- Scientists should be leading the pandemic response in place of politicians. Discuss.
- Is developing more than one vaccine a waste of money?
- Scientists are the most trustworthy profession. Discuss.
- 10% or more of GDP should be put towards medical research. Discuss.
Lockdown Debate Topics
- Are lockdowns the best way to combat coronavirus?
- Are COVID-19 restrictions are more harmful than helpful?
- Locking down churches, mosques, and synagogues infringes on religious freedoms. Discuss.
- Should lockdowns be implemented until there are 0 COVID cases?
Education Debate Topics
- Remote education is superior to in-person education. Discuss.
- Should colleges reimburse student fees during the pandemic?
- Should public health and virology classes be taught at high school?
- School lockdowns are a good tool to use when fighting the pandemic. Discuss.
- Biology is the most important subject taught in schools. Discuss.
Political Debate Topics
- The military should be involved in the pandemic response. Discuss.
- Coronavirus has furthered political divisions. Discuss.
- The USA is the country that's been the most negatively affected by COVID-19. Discuss.
- Is coronavirus simply correcting overpopulation?
Employment Debate Topics
- Companies should not encourage employees to work remotely. Discuss.
- Is working remotely better than being in the office each day?
- Should people who work from home take a pay cut?
- Essential workers should earn more than non-essential workers. Discuss.
- The pandemic has revealed which jobs are the most important to the functioning of society. Discuss.
Financial Debate Topics
- The government has not provided enough financial aid during the pandemic. Discuss.
- Has the world economy has been damaged irreparably by COVID-19?
- Should Pfizer, Moderna, and other vaccine manufacturers offer doses for free?
- The rich should still receive stimulus checks. Discuss.
- Should the government bail out businesses who collapse due to the pandemic?
Media Debate Topics
- Social media should ban users who spread unsubstantiated information about COVID-19. Discuss.
- Does the media focus enough attention on the pandemic?
- The media coverage of the pandemic has been alarmist. Discuss.
- News companies have capitalised on the pandemic at the expense of the public. Discuss.
Other Debate Topics
- COVID-19 has affected all social classes equally. Discuss.
- Should everyone take a COVID test once a fortnight?
- Coronavirus has had a positive impact on the environment. Discuss.
- Should international borders remain open during the pandemic?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 K S Lane