COVID-19

Why New Zealand is more vulnerable to a new COVID-19 outbreak than ever before

Guest Author Jun 25, 2021

Matthew Hobbs, University of Canterbury; Lesley Gray, University of Otago; and Malcolm Campbell, University of Canterbury   Health authorities have raised the COVID-19 alert to level 2 for Wellington, from 6pm today until midnight on Sunday, after an Australian traveller who visited the New Zealand capital at the weekend tested positive on their return home. The news comes … Read More

New Zealand approves Pfizer vaccine for young people from 12 to 15, but they’ll have to wait their turn

Guest Author Jun 25, 2021

Michael Plank, University of Canterbury   New Zealand’s medicines regulator Medsafe has granted provisional approval of the Pfizer vaccine for youth aged 12 to 15, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expects cabinet approval to follow next week. Once cabinet approves, 12-15-year-olds will become eligible for vaccination towards the end of the year, after older groups have had their … Read More

The COVID-19 lab leak theory highlights a glaring lack of global biosecurity regulation

Guest Author Jun 15, 2021

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato   The revived debate over whether COVID-19 could be the result of an accidental release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology may never be adequately resolved. Either way, we risk not seeing the wood for the trees. While the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in February such a leak was “extremely unlikely”, it … Read More

Research now backs routinely offering pregnant women the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine

Guest Author Jun 11, 2021

Michelle Wise, University of Auckland New Zealand and Australia will now routinely offer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to women at any stage of pregnancy, following an update of vaccination advice. This comes as research suggests the risk of severe outcomes from infection is significantly higher for pregnant women compared to the general population. At the same time, … Read More

From smallpox to polio, vaccine rollouts have always had doubters. But they work in the end

Guest Author Jun 08, 2021

David Isaacs, University of Sydney   In 2019, before COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the top ten greatest threats to global health. Every year, vaccination saves around 4-5 million lives, although a further 1.5 million lives could be saved annually with improved global vaccine coverage. Now, we are seeing a … Read More

How well your immune system works can depend on the time of day

Guest Author Jun 04, 2021

Annie Curtis, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences   When microorganisms – such as bacteria or viruses – infect us, our immune system jumps into action. It’s highly trained to sense and eliminate infections and clear up any damage caused by them. It’s typically assumed our immune systems work the exact same way regardless of whether an infection occurs … Read More

The real challenge to COVID-19 vaccination rates isn’t hesitancy — it’s equal access for Māori and Pacific people

Guest Author Jun 02, 2021

Jesse Whitehead, University of Waikato; Kate C. Prickett, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington, and Polly Atatoa Carr, University of Waikato   Reports of potentially higher rates of vaccine hesitancy among Māori and Pacific populations have seen the government target COVID-19 vaccine and information campaigns at those communities. And there are excellent reasons for such … Read More

Coronavirus variants have new names: we can finally stop stigmatising countries

Guest Author Jun 02, 2021

Ed Feil, University of Bath   The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a new naming system for the coronavirus that uses Greek letters to refer to the different variants. For the variants of concern, B117 (the UK or Kent variant) will now be known as alpha, B1351 (South Africa) will be beta, P1 (Brazil) is gamma and B16172 … Read More