Coronacast is a podcast that answers your questions about coronavirus. We break down the latest news and research to help you understand how the world is living through a pandemic.
As respiratory disease goes, COVID got us good. But it's important we don't forget the old school ones like flu and RSV. There's quite a bit of flu around at the moment too. It could even be described as a surge. So what's going on? Why are we being attacked by COVID, flu and RSV all at once? Also on today's show: * Remember that time a stranger made Norman stick something up his nose in an abandoned dungeon? * What's going on in China now that they've dropped COVID restrictions?
With the World Health Organisation (WHO) announcing that COVID-19 is no longer a "global health emergency", you'd be forgiven for thinking the pandemic's over. But alas, it isn't. According to WHO, the "emergency" phase is over but COVID will remain a persistent threat for a lot longer, saying the disease is still killing someone every three minutes. So how can COVID no longer be an emergency, but also remain so deadly?
The Omicron variant has been spinning off all sorts of sub variants during its 17 month long reign. The latest is XBB.1.16 - known also as Arcturus - and like its sibling sub variants doesn't seem to be all that different. But while Arcturus is busy trying to become the most popular sub variant of the month, we are undergoing another wave of infections. There are hundreds of people in hospitals around the country and it's continuing to affect how the health system operates. Also on the show: Is COVID going to the dogs?
The coronavirus pandemic might not be a 'pandemic' for much longer So, looking ahead, experts have come together to propose countermeasures for future epidemics and pandemics. It's all about transparency and equity at a global scale. References: It is time for ambitious, transformational change to the epidemic countermeasures ecosystem
Another wave of COVID infections seems to be underway in parts of Australia, and NSW is leading the pack. The variant soup is getting more complex by the day — but luckily the dominant mutations don't seem to be causing more severe disease. Regardless, as more people get infected and re-infected, researchers are fast at work trying to determine what might protect people from long-term consequences. References: Adherence to Healthy Lifestyle Prior to Infection and Risk of Post-COVID-19 Condition Severe COVID-19 outcomes by cardiovascular risk profile in England in 2020: a population-based cohort study
In 2022, Australia saw an estimated 12% increase in the number of deaths compared to expert predictions. More than half of those were due to COVID-19. And there are signs that even the deaths that couldn't be directly linked to COVID-19 are a result of the pandemic. This pattern isn't just playing out in Australia, but around the globe. So what are the driving factors, and what can be done to address them? References: Almost 20,000 excess deaths for 2022 in Australia One-Year Adverse Outcomes Among US Adults With Post-COVID-19 Condition vs Those Without COVID-19 in a Large Commercial Insurance Database Life expectancy changes since COVID-19
Since ATAGI updated its booster advice there have been lots of questions about why kids aren't able to get another jab. We discuss the reasoning behind the age limit, as well as some other vaccine-related questions from listeners. Also, a few controversial COVID topics... from Ivermectin to the US Energy Department's theory on where the virus came from. References: COVID-19 vaccines for children Effect of Higher-Dose Ivermectin for 6 Days vs Placebo on Time to Sustained Recovery in Outpatients With COVID-19 Lab Leak Most Likely Origin of Covid-19 Pandemic, Energy Department Now Says
Antivirals are an important measure to prevent severe disease in vulnerable people with COVID-19. But there have been concerns antivirals could lead to rebound infections — the resurgence of viral load following the completion of the medication. So what do the latest studies say? Also, we speak to an expert informing the parliamentary inquiry into long COVID about how to best care for patients. Guest: Professor Tania Sorrell University of Sydney References: SARS-CoV-2 rebound with and without antivirals Viral burden rebound in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 receiving oral antivirals in Hong Kong: a population-wide retrospective cohort study Submission—Inquiry into long COVID and repeated COVID infections
An old debate has been reignited after a review declared the effects of masks is uncertain and in need of further investigation. Meanwhile Sydney scientists have found a receptor that sticks to the coronavirus and pulls it away from lung cells, opening up potential treatment avenues. But for now, vaccines remain the best protection against severe disease. So when should you get your next booster? We answer some common questions. References: Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses Yes, masks reduce the risk of spreading COVID, despite a review saying they don't Fibroblast-expressed LRRC15 is a receptor for SARS-CoV-2 spike and controls antiviral and antifibrotic transcriptional programs
Australian adults will be able to get a fifth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine within a fortnight. People aged 18 and over who've not had a COVID vaccine or a positive case in the last six months will also be eligible for another shot.
The majority of Australians have received at least two doses of a COVID vaccine — and they've most likely caught the virus as well. New research suggests this hybrid immunity offers good protection against severe disease, although the risk of long COVID persists with even mild bouts of infection. There could soon be a simple model to predict how likely you are to recover well from COVID, or whether you'll go on to develop post-viral symptoms. Guest: Professor Jeremy Nicholson Director, Australian National Phenome Centre, Health Futures Institute References: Protective effectiveness of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and hybrid immunity against the omicron variant and severe disease: a systematic review and meta-regression A patient-centric modeling framework captures recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection
It has been three years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health emergency. The WHO isn't ready to downgrade the status of the pandemic, but the committee has agreed we're at a 'transition' point. Meanwhile an outbreak of influenza in mink has highlighted the need for greater animal-human disease surveillance.
Although we didn't begin this year with any lockdowns or border closures, the pandemic hasn't abated. In fact we're off to a worse start than we had in 2022. Australia surpassed 1,000 deaths a whole week earlier than it did last year. New subvariants are circulating fast. So what's changed? What's the best protection? And could sluggish surveillance be leaving us vulnerable?
What a year 2022 has been for COVID. We started with a new variant sweeping the world, heavy restrictions and border closures and we end with very few restrictions remaining. We also sadly end with millions not fully vaccinated, and an aged care system that is still battling the virus. So on the last Coronacast of the year, we go down the 2022 rabbit hole and try to make some predictions for 2023.
The number of new weekly COVID cases seems to be slowing, but sadly doesn't seem to be slowing fast enough to be free of the current wave by Christmas. Last year was a strong COVID Christmas, as the Omicron variant took over from Delta bringing thousands and thousands of new cases. This time, the wave will be smaller - but still noticeable. And we break down the big announcements from National Cabinet: PCR testing and the country's COVID strategy in 2023.
There's been a lot of discussion about the origins of COVID, especially on the question of did it come from a lab, did it form naturally - or maybe a mix of both. Well a new book called Dark Winter has tackled this question and has come to the conclusion that we better get better at identifying outbreaks - because sometimes they're intentional. While there's no direct evidence that COVID came from a lab leak, author and Professor Raina MacIntyre argues it is possible and some have been too quick to wave away the possibility.
Protests are breaking out across parts of China in response to the Chinese government zero COVID restrictions. The number of COVID cases has soared in China in recent weeks, rising at a similar rate to what happened in March this year. The outbreak was quickly brought under control, by the use of the Government's severe measures such as forced external quarantine and city wide lockdowns. But with widespread discontent and protests, it may prove harder to keep this outbreak under control. So is this the end of China's COVID zero? References: China Covid: Shocking protests are huge challenge for China's leaders - Stephen McDonell Associations between COVID‐19 and hospitalisation with respiratory and non‐respiratory conditions: a record linkage study
There's hope that the current Omicron sub variant wave will be in decline again just in time for Christmas - but like everything COVID, it's hard to know for sure. Both case loads and hospitalisations due to COVID have continued to increase in the last week. The latest advice from state health authorities say that overseas experience suggests the current wave might pass relatively quickly, though they warn local conditions may mean it's different here. So what do we know about the latest wave? And is it better to have a quick one, or one that lasts for a longer time?
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