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Coronacast

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.

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Will lockdowns and restrictions end when we're vaccinated?

We know that vaccination is the fastest way out of this pandemic, and the sooner we can get the jab the sooner we're protected.But according to modelling from the Burnet Institute, even with high levels of vaccination, it might be a while yet before we can say goodbye to restrictions and other impositions on our lives.That's partly because of unknowns like how variants will continue to evolve, and because the vaccines don't work 100 per cent of the time in some people.So on today's Coronacast, looking ahead - what can we expect, even if we get to very high levels of vaccination?Guest:Burnet Institute Deputy Director and infectious diseases and public health specialist, Professor Margaret Hellard

14mins

10 Jun 2021

Rank #1

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Goodbye Alpha. Hello Delta.

There are lots of words that are used to describe the Delta coronavirus variant: highly contagious, very infectious, fast moving.But maybe it's time to add the word successful.The Delta variant has now overtaken the homegrown Alpha variant in the UK as the most dominant strain, and numbers are rising in the United States as well.So on today's Coronacast, we look ahead as to what the rise of Delta might mean for the world.Also on today's show:* Why is there a variation state to state on vaccination rollouts?* Evidence from Germany shows earlier detection and better treatment is lowering AstraZeneca clot mortality

11mins

9 Jun 2021

Rank #2

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A hotel trip to write home about!

It sounds like a lovely holiday: a week or two in Melbourne, see the sights before travelling north to the picturesque sandy beaches of Jervis Bay.Well, it's nice if you're a person. If it's the coronavirus variant of concern known as Delta, it's not not really a getaway you want to be part of.According to Victorian health authorities, the Delta cluster they're battling has been traced back to a guest from early May who came through hotel quarantine.On today's Coroncast, why that discovery will hopefully help them end the lockdown on time.Also on today's show:* More about getting your 2nd Pfizer dose in Victoria* Is there any evidence that vaccinated people are shedding the virus post vaccine?* Do mRNA vaccines change your DNA?* What happens if you don't get vaccinated by the time Australia reopens to the world?

12mins

8 Jun 2021

Rank #3

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What's worse: big numbers or one mystery case?

As the days count down to Thursday, the question on everyone's mind is: will Victoria come out of lockdown or do they need a bit longer?Every day, health authorities say they're taking it one day at a time as more and more information is gathered.So what does it mean that Victoria has posted 11 new cases yesterday, when it was low single figures the day before?Thankfully, all the cases have been linked to existing cases and many were already in quarantine. But as today's Coronacast explains, issues still remain.Also on today's show:* Lockdown hard and fast or keep everything open?* Many Victorian Coronacasters are reporting issues with getting their second Pfizer booking. What's going on?

9mins

7 Jun 2021

Rank #4

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So where's all this heading by Thursday?

Over the last few days in Victoria, there have been low numbers of new COVID cases - but every new case is not the same.Recently, many of them are people already in quarantine, which shows that contact tracers have successfully found and isolated people before they can infect more people in the community.But others, like two cases to be announced today, are slightly more problematic: they're another health care worker and aged-care resident.And then there's the cluster that no one saw coming: the discovery of a different variant not known to be circulating in the community.So on today's Coronacast, how's it looking for Victoria's hopeful reopening this Thursday?Also on today's show:* If the vaccines only stop severe illness and do not stop spread, how is herd immunity possible?* Are the Delta and Kappa variants covered by the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines?* I've been donating plasma, but now that I'm vaccinated I'm feeling a bit selfish about giving away my newly made antibodies. Should I be concerned?

12mins

6 Jun 2021

Rank #5

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Is the Kappa variant really more infectious?

The situation in Victoria improved slightly yesterday, with only a few cases and all being linked to people already in quarantine.Residents of Melbourne and health authorities will be hoping that the worst is behind them, and it'll be smooth sailing from here. But as we know by now, you should never underestimate a virus that'll exploit every weakness it can.So on today's Coronacast, is the variant currently in Melbourne better at exploiting weaknesses than what we've seen before? Also on today's show:* Why Melbourne?* How should I try to convince people that are willing to get the Pfizer vaccine to be also ok with the AstraZeneca vaccine?* If I'm vaccinated and get COVID, because I may have no symptoms, will I be able to give it to people without me knowing?And it's Friday, which means it's time for Quick Fire Friday (Friday edition!)

12mins

3 Jun 2021

Rank #6

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Seven days in, seven more to go

The initial seven day lockdown in Melbourne has not been enough to get control of the outbreak in the city.As a result, Melbournians will need to do at least another seven days to give health authorities more time.They've also revealed that the plan is to get the state back to zero spread - or eradication of community spread.So on today's Coronacast, what'll they have to do to get there?Also on today's show:* We've had heaps of questions over the past several weeks on blood clotting from the AstraZeneca vaccine, so we've got Dr Tim Brighton, a haematologist in Sydney and member of Thrombosis and Haemostasis society of Australia and New Zealand in to answer your questions.GUEST:Dr Tim Brighton, haematologist in Sydney, member of THANZ (Thrombosis and Haemostasis society of Australia and New Zealand)

16mins

2 Jun 2021

Rank #7

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How casual can a contact be?

Health authorities in Victoria sounded slightly more upbeat yesterday, thanks to no new cases being posted from the aged care sector.But worryingly, there are still mystery cases to sort out and what's even more concerning is said to be acting differently than it has with previous outbreaks.Authorities have described the behaviour as "fleeting", saying it is showing remarkable ability to infect people in settings with only very brief contact.So on today's Coronacast, with at least four transmissions occurring this way so far, how casual can a contact be?Also on today's show:* And it's Wednesday, so it's time for Quick Fire... Friday?

9mins

1 Jun 2021

Rank #8

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How could we let an aged care outbreak happen again?

The second wave in Victoria in 2020 revealed aged care to be a major vulnerability in Australia's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.Of the many hundreds of deaths from the second wave, the majority were in private aged care homes.And, sadly, COVID-19 has once again made it back into aged care - with coronavirus currently in two facilities in Melbourne.So on today's Coronacast, wasn't aged care supposed to be protected by now?Also on today's show:* When does a cluster become a wave?* What research has been done on shortening the gap between 1st and 2nd doses?* Why can't we just vaccinate people on day 1 of hotel quarantine?

10mins

31 May 2021

Rank #9

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But vaccination is a race, isn't it?

As Melbourne entered its third day of lockdown, the news came that many were dreading: coronavirus had made it back into an aged care facility and it was a mystery case.The health care worker and roughly 70 percent of residents had been vaccinated with their first shot.It came as senior Federal Government ministers insisted that the vaccine rollout is not a race, saying it needs to be systematic. But on today's Coronacast, the systematic approach had aged care residents to be vaccinated within a month and a half as part 1a - so what happened?Also on today's show:* Weren't all aged care residents supposed to be vaccinated by now? * What's going on in the UK? Why are numbers rising again?* What are the known risk factors to AstraZeneca blood clots?

12mins

30 May 2021

Rank #10