COVID-19

New Zealand needs a ‘traffic light’ system to stop COVID-19 creeping in at the border

Guest Author Nov 06, 2020

Nick Wilson, University of Otago and Michael Baker, University of Otago Following the sixth COVID-19 incursion in three months, New Zealand needs to shift from a one-size-fits-all strategy to a risk-based approach to border management. Two staff have recently tested positive after coming into contact with international seafarers in the course of their duties at a managed isolation facility … Read More

UN report says up to 850,000 animal viruses could be caught by humans, unless we protect nature

Guest Author Nov 01, 2020

Katie Woolaston, Queensland University of Technology and Judith Lorraine Fisher Human damage to biodiversity is leading us into a pandemic era. The virus that causes COVID-19, for example, is linked to similar viruses in bats, which may have been passed to humans via pangolins or another species. Environmental destruction such as land clearing, deforestation, climate change, intense agriculture and the … Read More

A new study suggests coronavirus antibodies fade over time – but how concerned should we be?

Guest Author Oct 28, 2020

Sheena Cruickshank, University of Manchester Newly released research suggests that levels of antibodies against the coronavirus have declined across the UK population since testing began. Having randomly sampled 365,000 people across the country, the React2 study – which is yet to be peer-reviewed – estimates that 6% of the UK population had antibodies against the virus … Read More

Coronavirus: the road to vaccine roll-out is always bumpy, as 20th-century pandemics show

Guest Author Sep 26, 2020

Samantha Vanderslott, University of Oxford If you have been following the media coverage of the new vaccines in development for COVID-19, it will be clear that the stakes are high. Very few vaccine trials in history have attracted so much attention, perhaps since polio in the mid-20th century. A now largely forgotten chapter, summer polio outbreaks invoked terror in parents. Read More

Terrible luck: lockdowns on learning and youth job prospects

Guest Author Sep 23, 2020

What is bad luck? Bad luck is spilling spaghetti sauce down your shirt right before an important meeting. When the person in front of you gets the last seat on the bus, that’s bad luck. Bad luck is when it’s sunny outside, so you leave the house without a coat, and it hails almost immediately (unless you live in Wellington, … Read More

From adenoviruses to RNA: the pros and cons of different COVID vaccine technologies

Guest Author Sep 18, 2020

Suresh Mahalingam, Griffith University and Adam Taylor, Griffith University The World Health Organisation lists about 180 COVID-19 vaccines being developed around the world. Each vaccine aims to use a slightly different approach to prepare your immune system to recognise and fight SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, we can group these technologies into five main types. Some technology … Read More

COVID-19 is not the only infectious disease New Zealand wants to eliminate, and genome sequencing is a crucial tool

Guest Author Sep 15, 2020

Nigel French, Massey University Genome sequencing — the mapping of the genetic sequences of an organism — has helped track the spread of COVID-19 cases in Auckland, but it also plays an important role in the control of other infectious diseases in New Zealand. One example is Mycoplasma bovis, a global cattle disease New Zealand also hopes to … Read More

Now everyone’s a statistician. Here’s what armchair COVID experts are getting wrong

Guest Author Sep 14, 2020

Jacques Raubenheimer, University of Sydney If we don’t analyse statistics for a living, it’s easy to be taken in by misinformation about COVID-19 statistics on social media, especially if we don’t have the right context. For instance, we may cherry pick statistics supporting our viewpoint and ignore statistics showing we are wrong. We also still need to correctly interpret these … Read More