What is the 'Indian variant' of COVID-19 that is spreading in Victoria?

Experts believe B.1.617 could be more infectious than previous variants, based on how rapidly it is spreading in other countries.

"Preliminary reports from the UK, where B.1.617.2 is surging in some parts of the country, suggest it is 50 per cent more contagious than the UK variant B.1.1.7, which is already 50-100 per cent more contagious than the 'regular' strain," infectious diseases expert Raina MacIntyre said. READ MORE

2021 Archibald shortlist. From Grace Tame to Craig Foster

From Grace Tame to Craig Foster: distinguished public figures but only one politician in a telling 2021 Archibald shortlist

There are many portraits of public figures, including Grace Tame, Craig Foster and the biosecurity expert Professor Chandini Raina Macintyre. READ MORE

New study: COVID-19 vaccination in haematology patients

Australia and New Zealand have achieved very good control of community spread of SARS-CoV-2 during the global pandemic due to highly effective public health interventions.1, 2 As of 20 January 2021, Australia had recorded 22 201 local cases with 909 total fatalities3 and New Zealand had reported 1044 local cases with 25 fatalities.4 The availability of effective vaccines offers an opportunity to consolidate this successful control and requires consideration of their application to key vulnerable populations, including those with haematological disorders.


Indian variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 detected in Melbourne

Evidence of a SARS-CoV-2 strain was recently detected in Melbourne wastewater, leading to the detection of 26 locally acquired cases of COVID-19. Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has confirmed that the strain is the B1.617 variant first detected in India.

The strain was genetically linked to the man who contracted the virus while in Adelaide hotel quarantine. READ MORE

What does the Indian variant mean for Australia?

A virulent Indian COVID-variant is driving the latest outbreak in Melbourne. HEAR the interview.


Martin Foley, Victorian health minister

James Merlino, Victoria's acting premier

Professor Raina MacIntyre, Head of the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW

OPINION Four cases in Melbourne but what if I've already been exposed?

But if a person has been infected with coronavirus and is in an early stage of incubating the virus – would a vaccine confer any protection to that person?

The short answer is we don’t know yet for sure. But many vaccines do work in that way and when vaccine supplies are limited, targeting contacts for vaccination could be worth trying. This approach is sometimes called post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP. READ MORE

Commentary: Why is COVID-19 surging in the world’s most vaccinated country?

Seychelles offers valuable lessons about mutant strains and vaccine efficacy, says a biosecurity professor. READ MORE

New report confirms what many have thought: Covid probably spreads through air

Raina MacIntyre, a professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales in Sydney says the mainstreamed false assumption has given way to a hygienic practice that has done little good, as it didn’t focus on the virus being transmitted through the air. READ MORE

UNSW awarded over $8m in funding for health and medical research

Projects led by UNSW Sydney researchers will share more than $8 million in federal government funding for life saving medical research.

UNSW researchers received two Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grants for clinical trials that will investigate safer and more efficient ways to use existing, high-cost medicines. Funding was also awarded to a project investigating a new treatment of spinal cord injury neuropathic pain, and a project developing an artificial intelligence system to detect epidemics early.   


Kirby Institute modelling could assist pandemic exit strategy

With limited supply, the study examined the concept of using vaccines as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), meaning people could be vaccinated following exposure to a close contact who tested positive for COVID-19, preventing them from contracting the disease.

“Vaccines are effective as post-exposure prophylaxis for other infections, such as smallpox, hepatitis A and measles, but we’re yet to test whether COVID-19 vaccines would work in the same way,” Professor MacIntyre said. READ MORE