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Reflections from the rollercoaster, one year after my first collaboration with Toby Morris

Today is a bit of a momentous day for me. It’s the one-year anniversary of the Spinoff publishing the first animation Toby Morris and I created together. You might remember it. It was called Flatten the curve and was based on a picture I’d seen shared on Twitter. I thought the concept was really important – that we should try to keep Covid-19 cases...

Your questions on the latest NZ Covid cases, answered

Three new community cases of Covid-19 and an unknown source have plunged Auckland into lockdown and the rest of the country into alert level two. Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles tackles some of the critical questions we now face. Could we be looking at a situation as worrying as last August in Auckland? Yes. Like in August, it isn’t clear yet how the...

What do we know about Covid transmission via pipes and ventilation?

Is it plausible that the new cases contracted in the Pullman hotel in Auckland were transmitted via pipes? Here’s what the science tells us. As the investigation to determine how three people became infected with Covid-19 during their stay in New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine system gets away, it is worth considering a few studies published...

How worried should we be about these new Covid-19 mutations?

The new Northland case has been linked to the South African strain of Covid-19, one of a number of new, more contagious Covid variants. Here’s how they emerge and why. Let’s start with the basics. The genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19 is a strand of RNA made up of almost 30,000 nucleotides. Those nucleotides – adenine,...

The Plan B implosion – what Brazil teaches us about the herd immunity hogwash

As families around the world mourn more than two million people dead from Covid-19, the Plan B academics and their PR industry collaborator continue to argue that the New Zealand government should stop focusing on our managed isolation and quarantine system and instead protect the elderly so that they can reopen the border and allow everyone else to...

Just how worrying is the new Covid-19 strain for Britain – and the rest of us?

Let’s start with the basics. The genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19 is a strand of RNA made up of almost 30,000 nucleotides. These are code for the amino acids that in turn give us the proteins that make up the virus. Each time the virus enters a new cell and replicates, its genetic material is copied, and nucleotides...

Aches on a plane – new findings on in-flight Covid transmission

One of the good things about New Zealand pursuing an elimination strategy for Covid-19 (aside from the obvious) is that we are able to help answer some of the questions there are about how the SARS-CoV-2 virus transmits between people. Take air travel. As many people in the US start to head off around the country to spend Thanksgiving with their friends...

Don’t fall for the Covid contrarians

As life in Aotearoa gets back to some kind of normal after our latest Covid-19 outbreak, cases in the northern hemisphere are on the rise again and that puts us all at risk. Because no one is safe until we are all safe. This is a tricky virus. We now know that it spreads well through droplets and aerosols and that people are infectious before they...

How to strengthen the post-isolation Covid rules

Over the weekend, the Ministry of Health reported a case of Covid-19 in Auckland that is not related to the current Auckland cluster. Before we start to panic, here’s how I think the case happened and how we can strengthen our current border controls. The new Covid-19 case is someone who returned to New Zealand from India on August 27. They spent their...

How the PCR test works and why it’s such a critical weapon against Covid-19

I’ve been asked by several people in recent days whether there is any truth to a video about the Covid-19 PCR test that is currently doing the rounds on social media. I’m not linking to it, because it is chock full of false information; the fewer people who see it the better. It is by a medical doctor who talks about the difference between diagnostic...

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