Code for life

COVID-19: backing our front row

Grant Jacobs Oct 23, 2020

New Zealand has been called out as an outstanding player in managing COVID-19. We’ve done well,[1] but we’re far from perfect. We could do a lot better at backing our front row. Epidemiologists advise nations not to play “wait and see”. If By the time they do see, it’s all over them. “She’ll be right”… until it isn’t. We’re less … Read More

COVID-19: sequence the viral genomes of all border cases

Grant Jacobs Aug 17, 2020

New Zealand has an advantage in managing COVID-19: all our cases come from the border, one way or other.[1] We can exploit this in how we shut down outbreaks. One way is to have at the ready the viral genomes of all border cases. With this we can quickly find the starting point of any outbreaks inside the country. If … Read More

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Lifting our game against COVID-19

Grant Jacobs Mar 23, 2020

We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. [Edit: this was written before to the announcement of the Level 4 lockdown, and the National State of Emergency. The explanation of why we’re doing this, and general points should still be useful.] You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to … Read More

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Is 2019-nCov a pangolin coronavirus?

Grant Jacobs Feb 08, 2020

Tonight’s news suggests the coronavirus outbreak may have originated from pangolins. Details are very sketchy, almost nothing at all beyond a claim of high similarity. My impression is this claim comes from a press release by South China Agricultural University. Initial discussion online suggests this is a more likely candidate for an intermediate host than previous speculations. It is also … Read More

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The 2019-nCov coronavirus outbreak: all together now

Grant Jacobs Feb 01, 2020

There’s so much being reported about the ‘Wuhan’ 2019-nCov coronavirus outbreak it’s confusing. Here’s an outline of some aspects of what scientists are looking at, some places to follow the story, and a few tips for reading the science. Yesterday Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) wrote, calling for a public health emergency – … Read More

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The coronavirus outbreak: what is R0?

Grant Jacobs Jan 29, 2020

There are a few misunderstandings about the coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan getting around. Below is a short explanation of one of them: what is R0, and what does it mean. Current estimates for R0 centre around the mid 2s—call it 2.5 or thereabouts—not the higher values some are scare-mongering online. In following posts I may explain other things—if … Read More

Whodunnit? Finding the mystery 1080 testing lab

Grant Jacobs Dec 01, 2019

1080 is used to control pests in NZ. Its use is contested by a noisy few. A new report claims high levels of 1080 in rats washed up on a beach. Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa (F&F) won’t name the laboratory that did their testing. It has sparked a hunt for the mystery 1080 testing lab. It’s just the … Read More

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Measles vaccination a priority for travel to islands and Phillipines

Grant Jacobs Nov 25, 2019

The Ministry of Health has announced that “people under the age of 50 travelling from New Zealand to Samoa, Tonga, Philippines and Fiji” are now on the list of national priorities for MMR vaccination. Given the outbreaks of measles in Samoa, Tonga, Philippines and Fiji, the Ministry of Health is asking primary care providers to ensure vaccinations are up-to-date … Read More

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Political parties and GMOs: we all need to move on

Grant Jacobs Nov 14, 2019

Recently more than 150 post-graduate students and young scientists presented an open letter to the Green Party via The Spinoff, encouraging them to reconsider their position on genetic modification. Their target is tackling climate change issues.[1] Can any party continue to be dismissive about genetic modification (GM) contributing to better agriculture? We all want safe food, and … Read More

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1000 of these now

Grant Jacobs Nov 09, 2019

Some days I sit and think, “what will I write…?” What do you say when you get to 1000 posts? Maybe you just start where you are, diverge to where this all began, then offer a collection of reader’s favourite posts, and a few of your own? (And throw in a few pictures.) Slow to fall This piece started a … Read More