Explainer: what is viral load?

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced us to a raft of new terminology in the past two years, with important implications for the safety of our population. Now that the majority of Australians are fully vaccinated, it’s important to understand the concept of viral load. What is viral load? This term refers to the amount of … Continue reading Explainer: what is viral load?

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?

Coronavirus jumped from animals to humans multiple times

By Hamish McCallum The origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has caused the COVID-19 pandemic, has been hotly debated. This debate has caused substantial difficulties in the Australia-China relationship, with a call by Foreign Minister Marise Payne for another inquiry into its origin being considered by China as a hostile act. What’s not in doubt … Continue reading Coronavirus jumped from animals to humans multiple times

How are dangerous viruses contained in Australia?

Researching viruses can sometimes be dangerous, so there are many safety measures put in place to protect laboratory workers and the community. Biosecurity measures differ slightly from country to country, but most practices remain consistent. Here are some of the things that are done to protect the community and researchers from harmful microorganisms. Risk groups … Continue reading How are dangerous viruses contained in Australia?

Why antibiotics shouldn’t be in soap

You might assume that a soap or a cleaning product labelled as “antimicrobial” or “antibacterial” is a safer, more hygienic option. But there’s no evidence these substances do anything to improve hand hygiene, and they could be contributing to the much more dangerous problem of antibiotic resistance. In 2016, the US Federal Drug Administration banned … Continue reading Why antibiotics shouldn’t be in soap

Covid Booster: herd immunity and nature nurture

Herd immunity is impossible without vaccination A review led by Australian researchers has found that no country has had high enough COVID-19 infection rates to create ‘herd immunity’, meaning vaccination is the only way to get there. The review, published in PLOS ONE, analysed 17 antibody studies which included a total of 118,297 subjects from 15 regions. … Continue reading Covid Booster: herd immunity and nature nurture

COVID Booster

Cities encouraging cyclists, with good results Aside from being cheap and environmentally friendly, a bicycle is one of the least risky ways to commute in terms of COVID-19 transmission. At the start of the COVID crisis, many European cities encouraged cycling by establishing pop-up bike lanes. Now, a paper published in PNAS shows that the … Continue reading COVID Booster

COVID inequality explained

As COVID-19 vaccine rollouts begin, a large focus has been on vaccinating target groups, including the elderly. Choosing target groups has been informed by studies revealing that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, affects different people in different ways. Global data has found those aged over 70 are at the greatest risk of dying if … Continue reading COVID inequality explained

What’s so scary about the UK variant?

The new highly infectious variant of SARS-CoV-2 first identified in the United Kingdom last December has landed in Australia. After a Brisbane quarantine hotel cleaner tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, genomic sequencing confirmed that she was carrying the more contagious variant known as 501Y.V1. How this new variant affects people who are infected is … Continue reading What’s so scary about the UK variant?

COVID-19 Booster: Asymptomatic carriers

1. Protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 could last up to eight months A new US study reveals nearly all COVID-19 survivors may have protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 virus for months and even years after infection.  The research, published in an online edition of Science, analysed blood samples from 188 COVID-19 patients and found that parts of the “adaptive” immune system, … Continue reading COVID-19 Booster: Asymptomatic carriers

Cosmos Briefing: Epidemiological Modelling

Multiple models helped achieve the successful pandemic management strategies implemented in Australia at both state and national level, yesterday’s first Cosmos Briefing was told. Professor Jodie McVernon, from Doherty Epidemiology, and Professor Tony Blakely, from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, provided a comprehensive overview of their work and the broader application of … Continue reading Cosmos Briefing: Epidemiological Modelling

Handling COVID-19 as we move into 2021

High levels of testing, efficient vaccine distribution and addressing mental health issues will be critical if Australia is to maintain control over COVID-19, according to the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS). The independent body of more than 400 senior researchers has released a report spelling out what it sees as the necessary … Continue reading Handling COVID-19 as we move into 2021