COVID-19: The facts
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Find out about COVID-19
Responses to and management of the COVID-19 pandemic are evolving as the spread of the virus continues in Australia and globally.
To help people understand the changing situation and make decisions, the Australian Academy of Science is producing articles and videos based on the latest available knowledge. This information aligns with advice from the Australian Government Department of Health, and it is important that directives from the Department of Health and other jurisdictions such as state and territory governments are followed.
On this page are our articles and videos that present up-to-date information. There is also information about everything the Academy is doing to help the nation respond to the pandemic.
- COVID-19 vaccines and variants: how do they work?
- Pregnancies, periods and COVID-19 vaccines: what you need to know
- Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine? How to weigh up your risks and benefits
- What we know about the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots
- Don't catch my disease
- What impact will COVID-19 have on the environment?
- Finding a vaccine for COVID-19
- The mathematics of social distancing
- Hand sanitiser or soap: making an informed choice for COVID-19
- Isolation and anxiety: strategies to cope during COVID-19
- Why masks matter
- COVID-19 vaccine: Risks and benefits
- Five important questions about COVID-19
- COVID-19 vaccine: What you need to know
- Vaccine confusion?: Here are the facts.
- How does efficacy differ from safety?
- Why was the University of Queensland vaccine scrapped?
- COVID-19 vaccine: Contenders explained
- COVID-19: The latest from science with Professor Raina MacIntyre #3
- COVID-19: The latest from science with Professor Patrick McGorry
- COVID-19: The latest from science with Professor Jenny Graves
- COVID-19: The latest from science with Professor Michael Kidd #2
- Did pangolins start the pandemic?
- COVID-19: The latest from science with Dr Sam Hinton
- COVID-19: The latest from science with Professor Jodie McVernon
- COVID-19: The latest from science with Professor Toby Walsh
- COVID-19: The latest from science with Professor Jill Newby
- COVID-19: The latest from science with Professor Sharon Lewin
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor David Karoly
- Monitoring wastewater to fight COVID-19
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Ian Frazer #3
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor John Shine
- Feeling anxious about home schooling?
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Michael Kidd
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Fiona Stanley
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Peter Doherty #3
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Raina MacIntyre #2
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Carola Vinuesa
- Calm in anxious times: strategies to cope
- COVID-19: Why wait for a vaccine?
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Raina MacIntyre
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Dr Asha Bowen
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Peter Doherty #2
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Ian Frazer #2
- COVID-19: Will stricter social distancing help?
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Eddie Holmes
- COVID-19: What precautions should we take?
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Peter Doherty
- COVID-19: How many will be infected?
- COVID-19: The latest from science—Professor Ian Frazer
- COVID-19: Can you get reinfected?
- COVID-19: How can we prepare?
- COVID-19: when will a vaccine be produced?
- COVID-19: flattening the curve
- COVID-19: why is testing important?
- How does COVID-19 affect children?
- COVID-19: how does self-isolation help?
- COVID-19 vs flu
- COVID-19: transmission
- COVID-19: questions answered
22 July 2021 What does it mean when scientists talk about a new ‘variant’ of a virus? Why are some variants more concerning than others, and what does that mean for COVID-19 vaccines?
22 July 2021 This article dives into some of the discussions happening around COVID-19 vaccines, fertility and menstruation to sift through the claims and the evidence.
13 July 2021 Understanding both the risks and benefits of vaccination (and how we think about risk) can help you make the right decision for you or your family about having a COVID-19 vaccine.
7 May 2021 The AstraZeneca vaccine has been linked to a very rare, but serious, syndrome involving blood clotting and low platelet levels. What makes these rare kinds of blood clots different to other more common types?
29 July 2020 Zoonotic diseases are those that can be spread between other vertebrate animals and humans. COVID-19, Zika virus and Ebola are just some examples. So how do they spill to humans, and how do we reduce the risk?
4 May 2020 COVID-19 has affected our daily lives in an unprecedented range of ways, from physical distancing to travel bans. But the pandemic is also influencing our planet.
16 April 2020 Precautions needed to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as isolating yourself from others, may be making you feel anxious and stressed. What can you do to care for your mental health?
3 April 2020 The more people who physically distance themselves from others, the less the virus can spread from person to person. It is a matter of maths.
3 April 2020 Most of us can’t isolate ourselves entirely to stop the spread of COVID-19, so good hand hygiene can be the final barrier between us and the disease. When applied to hands thoroughly and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, both soap and alcohol-based hand sanitisers will stop the coronavirus.
26 March 2020 Precautions needed to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as isolating yourself from others, may be making you feel anxious and stressed. What can you do to care for your mental health?
24 August 2021 These two infographics give some perspective to the very low risk of death due to the AstraZeneca vaccine (Vaxzevria). When considering vaccination against COVID-19, it’s important to remember the proven benefits vastly outweigh the really rare risks.
14 August 2021
How do masks help to reduce the transmission of COVID-19?
13 July 2021
What are the risks and benefits for the COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia?
13 July 2021
Professor Peter Collignon answers five important questions about COVID-19 in the Australian context.
17 May 2021
Most Australians have been protected from the worst of COVID-19— but this disease can be deadly. Here’s how vaccinations protect individuals and communities in the fight against COVID-19. This video is part of a suite of content supporting our guide, The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers.
15 January 2021
Australian Academy of Science President, Professor John Shine clears up any confusion around current COVID-19 vaccines.
18 January 2021
Academy Fellow and immunologist Professor Carola Vinuesa answers questions on the vaccines that are to become available in Australia.
11 December 2020
While the University of Queensland vaccine showed promising results for efficacy and individual safety, it was another public health issue that stopped progress. Academy Fellow, Professor Carola Vinuesa explains.
24 November 2020
Pfizer, Moderna or Oxford? What about the University of Queensland? We asked Professor Ian Frazer about all these new potential COVID-19 vaccines.
8 October 2020
The future of the pandemic “really depends on what kinds of vaccines come out in the end, how effective they are and how quickly they can be scaled up and made accessible worldwide.”
10 September 2020 There are grim predictions for rising mental ill-health and suicide rates in Australia due to the pandemic, but how can we reduce this impact? For this episode of the Latest From Science, we talk to Academy Fellow and mental health expert Professor Patrick McGorry from Orygen.
27 August 2020
"The male hormone androgen is linked very strongly to baldness. It looks like having a lot of the male hormone is a risk factor." Biochemical geneticist and Australian Academy of Science Fellow, Professor Jenny Graves, speaks on the links between balding and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
22 July 2020 "We're living in a world where we currently don't have an effective vaccine against COVID-19. So we all need to remain vigilant and careful." Professor Michael Kidd, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, joins us in this episode of the Latest From Science to explain the current outlook for the pandemic in Australia.
10 July 2020 "The human body is not a nice little database with three different columns."
Every country collects COVID-19 data differently, so bringing it all together is a huge effort. Astronomer Dr Sam Hinton from the University of Queensland explains how data gets from the bedside to the website.
27 June 2020 Protecting wildlife such as pangolins may have the added benefit of preventing diseases like COVID-19 spreading to humans.
11 June 2020 "While there are any cases, there still is a risk of outbreaks."
Australia is in an enviable position globally, but we still are in a risk environment, Professor Jodie McVernon explains in Episode 22 of the Latest From Science.
26 May 2020 "The very first idea that we might be suffering this pandemic came from an AI program."
Artificial intelligence (AI) can be used in testing, tracing and even treating COVID-19. Hear more from Professor Toby Walsh in this episode all about coronavirus and the computer.
19 May 2020 "Three in four people say their mental health has been worse since the pandemic has started," says psychologist Associate Professor Jill Newby.
Associate Professor Jill Newby is a Clinical Psychologist at the Black Dog Institute and a leading expert on the technology-based treatment of depression, anxiety and chronic health conditions in adults.
14 May 2020 "We're in a position at the moment where time is absolutely critical," Doherty Institute Director Professor Sharon Lewin AO FAHMS says of COVID-19 vaccines.
She joins us to discuss the latest progress in COVID-19 vaccine development, clinical trials and why both collaboration and competition drive innovation in science.
21 May 2020 “There is an opportunity to use this transition, these economic stimulus packages, to rapidly transition to a zero carbon economy around the world and that would then lead to massive long term reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
Climate scientist and Academy Fellow Professor David Karoly explains the impact of the slowed economy during COVID-19 on our climate.
10 May 2020 "Scientists have shown that the virus can already be detected in sewage in the very first stages of a COVID outbreak." Wastewater testing can give health authorities a head start to respond rapidly and limit the spread of the deadly virus.
5 May 2020 In this episode, Academy Fellow Professor Ian Frazer explains new discoveries in terms of vaccines and treatments, as well as Australia's options on our road to recovery from COVID-19.
30 April 2020 "The only way out for humanity is to apply science," says Professor John Shine, President of the Academy.
26 April 2020 Feeling overwhelmed juggling work, home schooling and quarantine? Psychologist Professor Matt Sanders has some great advice to help you out.
24 April 2020 "There's been this real sense of community which we haven't seen before in Australia, maybe since war times, with people just being so conscious, and looking after each other." says Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd AM.
22 April 2020 "I think it has exposed our appalling inability to actually improve Aboriginal health outcomes and other outcomes," says Professor Fiona Stanley.
20 April 2020 "I'm not concerned, at this stage, about high mutation rates," says Professor Peter Doherty.
17 April 2020 “We can be pretty hopeful that we could achieve elimination” if the number of new cases continues to drop, says Prof Raina MacIntyre.
16 April 2020 How do we test for COVID-19? Who do we test, and why? How reliable are these tests? Professor Carola Vinuesa from the Centre for Personalised Immunology gives us the full picture.
13 April 2020 It is not unusual to feel anxious or worried when times are tough. Here's some expert advice from Academy Fellow Professor Richard Bryant on how to care for your mental health.
11 April 2020"Until we have a vaccine, we can't completely control the pandemic," Professor Raina MacIntyre says.
10 April 2020Has the curve flattened? Physical distancing does seem to be helping slow the spread of COVID-19 but what do the scientific models reveal? Professor Raina MacIntyre walks us through the scenarios.
8 April 2020 “Children in daycare centres are safe to be there,” says paediatrician and infectious diseases expert Dr Asha Bowen. This is episode 6 of the Latest From Science series.
6 April 2020 Is an immunity passport the answer? Or will people take more risks to get infected just so they can return to their normal lives? Academy Fellow Professor Peter Doherty returns with the latest on the pandemic.
3 April 2020 Should you make your own mask? And how do you isolate someone you live with? These are just two of the questions answered by Professor Ian Frazer in our latest extended interview.
2 April 2020 In an excerpt from the longer interview, Professor Peter Doherty explains how rules around keeping your distance from others should slow the spread of disease.
1 April 2020 ‘I was not at all surprised this happened. We’d been predicting it for a long time.’ Professor Eddie Holmes explains the origins of COVID-19 in this in-depth interview.
31 March 2020 To combat COVID-19 we have to change the way we live, says Professor Raina MacIntyre.
30 March 2020 Wondering about the risk of food deliveries during the COVID-19 crisis? And how long before things in Australia return to normal? Nobel Laureate and Academy Fellow Professor Peter Doherty tackles these and many other questions in this in-depth interview.
27 March 2020 Professor Ian Frazer answers how many people will be infected by the virus in the long term, and other questions.
27 March 2020 Academy Fellow, Professor Ian Frazer, is one of the world’s leading immunologists and co-creator of the HPV vaccine. He’s been keeping a close watch of COVID-19 and shares his expert insights in this longer interview.
27 March 2020 Professor Raina MacIntyre from UNSW Sydney answers more questions on COVID-19, specifically about reinfection of the virus.
26 March 2020 Professor Carola Vinuesa, Co-Director of the Centre for Personalised Immunology at the Australian National University, answers questions about preparing for COVID-19.
20 March 2020 Professor Damian Purcell, Doherty Institute, explains the process of producing a vaccine.
20 March 2020 Professor Robert Booy, University of Sydney, explains why flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections is important.
19 March 2020 Professor Raina MacIntyre from UNSW Sydney answers questions on COVID-19 testing.
18 March 2020 Professor Robert Booy, University of Sydney, talks about COVID-19 and children and pets.
18 March 2020 Professor Damian Purcell, Doherty Institute, discusses self-isolation to reduce the rate of COVID-19 spread.
12 March 2020 Professor Robert Booy, University of Sydney, explains the difference between COVID-19 and the flu.
8 March 2020 Professor Robert Booy, University of Sydney, explains how the virus is transmitted and what to do if you have possible symptoms. NOTE: The answer about public events has been superseded. See the Department of Health for restrictions on gatherings of people.
1 March 2020 Professor of Global Biosecurity Raina MacIntyre, Head of the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, answers important questions about COVID-19.