COVID Frontline: A breakthrough infection and a lockdown lifts

As detailed in the previous instalment, after a couple of days I considered myself the textbook case of a fully vaccinated individual that has caught COVID but has pretty mild symptoms. I was starting to wonder if this was going to be a one-entry COVID diary. However, by day four it got a bit more … Continue reading COVID Frontline: A breakthrough infection and a lockdown lifts

COVID Booster: Pregnancy loss, steroid side effects, and climate change

Vaccines are highly effective at preventing death from Delta A Scottish study of 100,000 Delta-positive people has found that the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines are highly effective at preventing death: 91% and 90%, respectively. The research, which is published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined data on vaccination status, COVID testing, and mortality … Continue reading COVID Booster: Pregnancy loss, steroid side effects, and climate change

Do COVID vaccines affect male fertility?

Vaccines do have side effects, but there are some social-media users peddling myths that COVID-19 vaccines cause male infertility and sexual dysfunction. This is not the case – there is no established link between COVID vaccines and male fertility, though falling ill with COVID-19 may pose a risk of sexual dysfunction. Do vaccines cause infertility … Continue reading Do COVID vaccines affect male fertility?

Opening Australia: It’s not a model problem

With Christmas looming, many Australians are keen to see international borders reopen. But how do we know the right time to do so? Politicians have leaned on Doherty modelling to build a national plan for reopening international borders, but while mathematical models are powerful tools for predicting potential surges, their predictions are still hypothetical. They … Continue reading Opening Australia: It’s not a model problem

COVID’s genetic solution?

Some people get severely sick with COVID-19. Others don’t even notice they’ve caught the infection. The phenomenon intrigued scientists, who began to probe the human genome in search of clues that could help them understand why some people quickly succumb to the coronavirus and others are unaffected by it. Over the past months, several studies … Continue reading COVID’s genetic solution?

COVID Frontline: What’s it like to get a Moderna booster?

On 17 September, CNN published an online story with the heading: “Moderna’s vaccine is the most effective, but Pfizer and J&J also protect well, CDC-led study says.” That news suited me just fine – I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine in January, and took the second shot in February. Two days earlier, … Continue reading COVID Frontline: What’s it like to get a Moderna booster?

COVID Booster: Nasal vaccines, music and donation generosity

TGA officially approves rapid antigen tests The Therapeutic Goods Administration has officially approved three rapid antigen self-tests for COVID-19. While they’re not as accurate as the gold-standard PCR testing, these tests deliver results in 20 minutes and can be done by a non-specialist. (Cosmos has an explainer on rapid antigen tests here.) They’ve previously been … Continue reading COVID Booster: Nasal vaccines, music and donation generosity

COVID Frontline: Getting COVID in a lockdown city

So on Tuesday I got a text: Your COVID test is POSITIVE. That’s how I became only the second person I know well who’s caught COVID; for an Australian, that’s probably not too unusual. But let’s roll back a bit. I live between Adelaide and Melbourne; my partner Nicola moved to Victoria to take up … Continue reading COVID Frontline: Getting COVID in a lockdown city

Bernardino Ramazzini is on the job

Looking for a career in healthcare? Occupational medicine, with its focus on treating work-related injuries and illnesses, is “the medical specialty ranked among the highest in satisfaction and lowest in professional burnout”, claims the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. It might come as a surprise to learn that the “scientific foundation to modern … Continue reading Bernardino Ramazzini is on the job

Did we underestimate the health effects of the Black Summer bushfires?

Research led by the Australian National University (ANU) has discovered undocumented health problems among people exposed to bushfire smoke. This suggests that the physical and mental impacts of the Black Summer fires were more extensive than previously thought. The team surveyed more than 2000 residents of areas around Canberra, Australia’s capital city, who were affected … Continue reading Did we underestimate the health effects of the Black Summer bushfires?

Epigenetics and pregnancy stress: should we be scared?

Preparing for a child is hard, and it’s only exacerbated by all the information that gets thrown at mothers about what to do and what not to do. One of these common ideas is that if a mother experiences stress when pregnant, her offspring will suffer. But don’t panic – genetics is highly complex biology … Continue reading Epigenetics and pregnancy stress: should we be scared?

COVID Frontline: Brazil

In February 2020, São Paulo had a major street carnival. I lived in the old downtown area, where the most interesting and absurd parades were held. Even for a person like myself who is not usually into parties, it was amazing to witness the biggest South American city in its most vibrant, happy, and celebratory … Continue reading COVID Frontline: Brazil