COVID-19

A century on from the 1919 influenza inquiry, NZ needs a royal commission into its COVID-19 response

Guest Author Dec 10, 2021

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato and Claire Breen, University of Waikato   The National Party’s recent call for a royal commission of inquiry into New Zealand’s pandemic response may have been part of a wider political strategy, with former leader Judith Collins highly critical of the government’s handling of the Delta outbreak. But the idea predated its recent advocate, … Read More

The uninvited Christmas guest: is New Zealand prepared for Omicron’s inevitable arrival?

Guest Author Dec 10, 2021

Matthew Hobbs, University of Canterbury and Lukas Marek, University of Canterbury   As New Zealand gets ready for the festive season under the new traffic light system, the emergence of the Omicron variant is a reminder this pandemic is far from over. The new variant of concern is already fuelling a new wave of infections in South … Read More

Verification will be essential as New Zealanders start using vaccine passes – to stop fraud and the spread of COVID

Guest Author Dec 06, 2021

Andrew Chen, University of Auckland When New Zealand switches to the COVID-19 Protection Framework tomorrow, people will have to present vaccine passes to access many public spaces and venues. At this point, more than 2.4 million people have downloaded their official vaccine passes, which represents almost 70% of the 3.6 million people who are fully vaccinated. The transition will … Read More

No, vaccinated people are not ‘just as infectious’ as unvaccinated people if they get COVID

Guest Author Nov 19, 2021

Jack Feehan, Victoria University and Vasso Apostolopoulos, Victoria University   Some recent studies have shown similar peak viral loads in vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated people who contract COVID. This has raised concerns for the efficacy of vaccines for preventing transmission. How concerned should we be? Are vaccinated people just as contagious as unvaccinated? What does this mean for … Read More

COVID disinformation and extremism are on the rise in New Zealand. What are the risks of it turning violent?

Guest Author Nov 19, 2021

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato   Last week’s COVID protest outside parliament served as a warning that New Zealand is not immune to the kinds of anger seen overseas. As Labour Party whip Kieran McAnulty put it, “I think everyone needs to be aware that things are starting to escalate.” McAnulty himself had been abused by some … Read More

How to help your child get the most protection out of their face mask

Guest Author Nov 12, 2021

Joel Rindelaub, University of Auckland   With many children around the country required to wear masks in classrooms, including those as young as eight in Victoria, parents are wondering how they can support their kids’ mask use. Schools are a breeding ground for respiratory viruses. When a large number of people are gathered together for extended periods of time … Read More

How do NZ’s vaccinated teachers have those hard conversations with their anti-vax colleagues?

Guest Author Nov 10, 2021

Paul Heyward, University of Auckland   The news that all staff members at a small King Country school were still unvaccinated a week out from the government’s November 15 mandatory deadline underlines how challenging the weeks ahead might be. Next Monday marks the day teachers will need to have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine … Read More

Nose sprays, needle-free patches, durable immunity: towards the next generation of COVID vaccines

Guest Author Nov 09, 2021

Kylie Quinn, RMIT University   The past 20 months has seen an explosion of vaccine development, with COVID vaccine testing and rollout happening at an unprecedented pace in the face of a global pandemic. There have been absolute triumphs – the fact we have multiple safe, effective vaccines is remarkable – but there have also been challenges. We’ve seen storage … Read More

Why vaccine doses differ for babies, kids, teens and adults – an immunologist explains how your immune system changes as you mature

Guest Author Nov 05, 2021

Brian Peppers, West Virginia University   Human beings are born pretty helpless, with a lot of developing to do. And just as you must learn such skills as how to walk, so must your immune system learn to defend against infections. As time passes, your immune system matures through different stages, much the way you advanced from crawling … Read More

Protesting during a pandemic: New Zealand’s balancing act between a long tradition of protests and COVID rules

Guest Author Nov 05, 2021

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato and Claire Breen, University of Waikato   Several times this week, protesters have forced Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to abandon events aimed to support the COVID vaccination rollout. Over the past few weeks, thousands have gathered, in breach of COVID restrictions and public health measures, to protest against lockdowns and vaccination mandates. The … Read More