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Coronacast

Author: ABC News

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Coronacast is a podcast that helps to answer your questions about coronavirus. We break down the latest news and research to help you understand how the world is living through a pandemic.
64 Episodes
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So you've just had a coronavirus test, and had a little stick shoved up your nose and wobbled around. But while you’re waiting for a result, have you thought how accurate it might be? Turns out the so-called false negative rate - that's when positive cases are wrongly found to be negative - can be as high as one in three on average. What might that mean for Australia's fight against the virus? On today's show: * Can I get married in India in November? * Do vaccines need to be 100% effective to be good? * How accurate are coronavirus tests? And we have a special announcement about the Together in Art Kids exhibition. Meet one of the kids who has submitted some amazing work, and the next artist who will help curate the next round of submissions. If you want to see the art from the "Inner Worlds" exhibition, visit the Together In Art website (search for Together In Art Kids or find the link on our website).
It's been just over a month since the Federal Government released the COVIDSafe app to help contact tracers track down potentially positive COVID-19 cases. It was sold as a vital tool to reopen the Australian economy and help get things moving again. So how has the app been used since then? Has it been the key to get things moving or has it been forgotten? On today's show: * What’s the history of the app so far? * How many downloads has it had? * Is it still being sold as a vital tool? * Why isn't the Government being transparent about the app’s functionality? * What successes has it had? * Has the source code been released? * How many people have since deleted it?
You might have thought we were finally getting on top of coronavirus, but the pandemic is not without its surprises. There's been a few cases in the past few days that have health authorities scratching their heads. Two school kids in Sydney have tested positive, and there's a case in Queensland that apparently dates back to the Ruby Princess. So what's going on? And what might it say about the level of community transmission of the virus? On today's show: * What do the cases in Sydney schools mean for community transmission numbers? * Is coronavirus more common out in the wild that we thought? * How can there be another case from the Ruby Princess? * Are enough people still getting tested to give a true indication of the spread? And Norman's here to explain the latest from the vaccine trial that's just started in Australia. But how can they test it here if there are such low active cases?
There are all sorts of options when picking a mask to help protect yourself and other people from picking up coronavirus. But some masks can be expensive, and not every mask is equal. Firstly, you have to wear it correctly. Secondly, you want to make sure it's doing what it is supposed to. So what mask should you choose? On today's show: * What mask should I wear and can I make my own? * What’s going on with state border closures? Is there any point? * Can smoking help inhibit coronavirus? And Norman and Tegan discuss a few pieces of research about how long coronavirus may be infectious for.
At the height of the Australian coronavirus epidemic, older people were urged to stay away from children and grandchildren to avoid contracting the virus. Age is a major risk factor for COVID-19, and many older people made the emotional decision to stay away from loved ones. But as the number of active cases continues to fall, families are wondering if it's okay once again for grandparents to hug and be around their children and grandchildren. On today's show: * Is it ok to hug our parents again? * What should people aged over 70 be doing now? * Why is it ok for kids to go to school, but not visit grandparents? And Norman talks about a study how coronavirus affects the immune system and what it could mean for designing treatments.
We know that in the 1918 flu pandemic the second wave was far more deadly than when it first arrived. This time around in Australia, it seems we may avoid a terrible second wave but that may make us more vulnerable to a third wave. By the end of this year and into 2021, we'll have little natural immunity, a vaccine may not be available and there's a danger that complacency may have set in. On today's show: * Norman goes on a bit of a tear about masks, and says if we all wore them we could re-open society much more quickly * How should social distancing work on flights? * Will any second or third coronavirus wave be better or worse than the 1918 flu?
When coronavirus infects someone, we know they can spread the disease via coughing and sneezing. But what about other forms of bodily fluid like blood? Around the world, there have been no reports of transmission that have definitely proven blood to be the cause. But the virus has been found in our blood, so it is theoretically possible. So what could this mean for blood donations? On today's show: * Is giving blood safe? * If someone with the virus coughed or sneezed on another's open wound, can the virus get into the bloodstream then the lungs? * Is there a chance we've eradicated the seasonal flu seeing as its infection rate is much lower than coronavirus? * If there are no new cases and haven't been for a while, like in WA, why do we need to continue with social distancing?
The search for a coronavirus vaccine has taken a small step in the right direction, with promising early results from a vaccine trial. Made by biotechnology company Moderna, the very early findings indicate the vaccine is safe and doing what it needs to do. But the results now need to be repeated in thousands more people to see if the vaccine works in the real world. On today's show: * What is this Moderna vaccine all about? * It appears that five sailors on USS Theodore Roosevelt have been reinfected or tested positive after recovering from infection. What does this imply for immunity? * Because we've been at home for so long without going out much, when we do start going back to school and work, will we become more likely to catch colds? Also, Norman and Tegan have a chat about bats, and Norman has some research about one of his favourite topics: the faecal oral route.
As pubs and restaurants re-open in some states, you're probably thinking that it's safe to return as long as you maintain 1.5 metres distance from other diners. But the 1.5 metre "rule" for social distancing is really just a best effort recommendation, and isn't a guarantee. So are social distancing recommendations enough when you're in a closed space for a long time? On today's show: * Can COVID-19 be spread through the air-conditioning? * Will social distancing save me? * Is it true that no scientist has physically isolated an actual COVID-19 virus that can be viewed under a powerful enough microscope? And Norman and Tegan talk about some exciting research about antibodies.
You probably think that coronavirus is a disease that takes 14 days to get over. That's how long isolation periods last. But for some people, coronavirus is a slow burn, making them sick - sometimes critically - and keeping them infectious for weeks. For example, we're still hearing about cases being connected back to the Ruby Princess, which docked in Sydney in March. And while rare, some patients remain infectious for longer than a month. So if some people remain infectious much longer than we think, could we get caught out if they go undetected? On today's show: * How long can people remain infectious for? * Is the easing of restrictions because there’s less virus around or that we’re better at responding to outbreaks? * Has SARS1 and MERS disappeared? And we have all your creative, wonderful and scary ways to blow out birthday cake candles, without blowing on the cake.
When you start thinking about it, coronavirus is going to change so many things we previously took for granted. Birthday cakes for example. It's probably not a great idea to be blowing out the candles. And if overseas experiences are anything to go by, loud boisterous singing in choirs may also be problematic. So what else might change? On today's show: * Is the risk of transmission high for those singing in choirs? * How do I blow out candles on a cake? * How do asymptomatic people transmit the virus if they're not coughing? * I was tested a few weeks ago because I had a sore throat. It's back. Should I get tested again? * Does coronavirus cause the common cold? There's no vaccine for that. * Does everyone who gets coronavirus develop COVID-19? * When you say 'kids', what do you mean? * I haven't worn shoes for a while. Now my old shoes hurt. Can my feet get bigger?
Ever since coronavirus appeared, scientists and researchers around the world have been scrambling to find out as much as they can about it. So much so that there's now enormous overlap in trials and reviews of COVID-19 evidence. It's led to concerns that resources are being wasted, especially in areas of drug trials because many studies are poorly designed and not actually revealing any useful information. On today's show: * How much coronavirus research is wasteful? * What's the point of quarantine if some people remain infectious for more than two weeks? * If I have a flu vaccination and get a slight reaction do I need to be tested for coronavirus?
There are all sorts of coronavirus origin stories, ranging from secret US military plots to disastrous accidental leaks from Chinese labs. But studying the evolutionary history of the SARS-COV-2 virus reveals that those stories are unlikely. So what is the most likely explanation for where the virus came from and could it be that it's been circulating in humans for far longer than we think? On today’s episode: * We revisit some of the origin stories of the novel coronavirus * If someone is asymptomatic with COVID-19, what's the maximum time they could be contagious? * Is it true that people who recover from the virus are left with serious holes in their lungs? And Norman talks about a paper that looks at a tuberculosis vaccine and if it could be useful in protecting against COVID-19.
The way different countries have responded to coronavirus has been incredibly varied. Some have tried to keep as much open as possible, others have gone for hard lockdowns at enormous economic cost. Australia has been towards the stricter end of the scale. So was it worth it? Will it end up costing more lives than it saved? On today's episode: * What are the recommendations for getting kids tested? * What if you know someone has COVID-19 symptoms but isn't getting tested? * Could we train dogs to sniff out coronavirus? * Is it safe to re-enter the pool? And are the lockdowns worth the cost? A few articles lately say yes, both in economic terms and total lives saved.
Most states and territories are moving to the next phase of our coronavirus pandemic journey, with some public spaces reopening, larger public gatherings permitted and an increase in the size of our social bubbles. But as we creep back into the world, there is always the risk of another outbreak. On today's Coronacast, Dr Norman Swan and health reporter Tegan Taylor discuss some simple ways you can keep yourself healthy and coronavirus-free while also enjoying your new freedoms. Also on the show: * How we can beat the Prime Minister's goal of reopening Australia's economy before July? * What are sentinel tests and why are they so important in Australia's coronavirus fight? * If so many COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, will ramped-up testing lead to a massive spike? Tegan and Norman also look at some modelling from Sydney University that predicts a suicide epidemic curve, but also shows what can be done now to flatten it. If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
You might have seen the study that found there may be a more contagious strain of coronavirus floating around. It turns out though that it's quite a controversial paper, and some experts are downplaying the findings. For starters, the more contagious strain is already the one that's in Australia. And secondly, while it may be more contagious it's no more dangerous than the other strain. On today's show: * I heard there are two strains. What’s that about? * Is there an accurate antibody test yet? * Would testing for antibodies at the airport mean I could avoid 14-day quarantine if I'd already had COVID-19? * I live in Australia and got sick before Christmas with coronavirus symptoms. Could I have had it? * Can Norman be President of the USA? And Norman's found a study that looked at anti-vaccination views and what that might mean if there's ever a SARS-COV-2 vaccine.
Like all living things, coronavirus will evolve and mutate, but that's not necessarily something to be feared. While the virus that causes COVID-19 is dangerous and deadly, if history is anything to go by, any mutations may calm it down a bit. In fact, a mutation might be in the interests of both humans and the virus. On today's episode: * When does it turn from a blip in cases into a second wave? * What should I do if someone needs CPR? * Why might SARS-COV-2 turn into a more "gentle" virus? * Is the virus blood type specific? And Norman has a very interesting piece of research from France. The research found a patient who had the SARS-COV-2 virus in December - a month before the country's first reported case. And the patient had no travel history to China.
One of the realities of this coronavirus pandemic is that you think you're doing a good job and then suddenly there's an outbreak. Some states might be consistently reporting zero cases, but others are struggling with growing clusters. So why has the infection rate suddenly increased? On today's episode: * Is the uptick in cases because of people travelling at Easter a few weeks ago? * Should I be worried about the increased number of cases? * Will salt in my homemade salami kill coronavirus? * We can't travel to other states yet. Isn't it a bit early to travel to NZ? * Is it possible Ebola and coronavirus can mutate into a more potent virus? And Norman has some news from a research paper about heart medication, which found it didn't worsen the disease for people who got it or make them more susceptible to it in the first place.
The origins of coronavirus have become increasingly controversial, with the US Government ratcheting up the rhetoric in recent days. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said recently there was "a significant amount of evidence" that it emerged from a Chinese laboratory. According to geneticists, it's unlikely the virus was man made. So what are some possible beginnings of the pandemic? On today's episode: * What are some possible origins of coronavirus? * Are you more likely to get coronavirus if you work in an abattoir? * Can I get sick from meat processed in an abattoir if the worker had coronavirus? * Could herbal medicine play a role in helping stop or treat coronavirus? And Norman and Tegan discuss research regarding skin rashes that are being reported by some COVID-19 patients.
This weekend, for the first time in a long time, you may have gone out to see a friend, sat in the park or had a picnic. With restrictions in some states slightly lifted, does that mean we're finally turning a corner on the coronavirus pandemic? Possibly, but the next 14 days will be crucial. On today's show: * What's going on with school openings? * How important is Vitamin D and what role could it play in COVID-19 infections? * Could low blood oxygen be used as a way to see if someone has COVID-19? And Norman has some information from a yet-to-be-published paper about why some South Korean recovered patients seem to be testing positive again for COVID-19.
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Comments (24)

Michele Bottroff

SA is doing really well too. Why are we always neglected in the spruiking of success?

May 21st
Reply

Julie

This is a brilliant podcast that's short but provides well researched, good quality and entertaining material.

May 2nd
Reply

Alex K.

yesterday's episode #26 wouldn't play for me... "unknown error". any reason?

Apr 8th
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Klintorious

Hard to trust anything coming from ABC News

Apr 4th
Reply

Calm Eron

ABC Australian ABC is a very good quality trustworthy source. The presenters Dr N. Swan is a practicing GP-journalist & is used to delivering an informed, non-alarmist message. It is co-hosted by Tegan Taylor a medical journo. but not aGP. Other plus points. Only ever about 10 minutes never more than 11 or 12 & is available overnight, daily. 🙏NAMASTAI

Apr 1st
Reply

María Eugenia Salazar

you keep saying about kids, bit that's easy. kids remember, and easier to control. my dad who is 89 I explain him in the morning, afternoon and maybe night. he does not understand. I'll go out anyway , he keep saying. I put him the news so he knows, bit then he enters to Paranoia. that shit is hard

Mar 29th
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Ann B

Dear Dr Norman Swan. Thank you for your excellent work on keeping us informed about the coronavirus .I am a GP. I would like to ask if Coveralls dust protection and limited chemical protection are adequate PPE for testing patients who may have COVID 19 ? Thank you,Kind Regards Ann Bedding

Mar 27th
Reply

Rachael Jay

This is confusing to me. I had based my decision to pull my son from school on previous advice from Dr Norman Swan published by the ABC. Has he changed his position?

Mar 20th
Reply

Jo Southwell

What is your opinion of visiting regional Victoria (Waratah Bay weekend of 28th and 29th march); and Port Fairy weekend of 6th and 7th April?

Mar 20th
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Ryan John

Hi, I have an additional opinion to that why China seems to have lower mortality rates than Italy... I believe what you said were right, but there might be another factor that contributes to China's quicker recovery. Almost everyone have no choice but to follow the government. So China is working as one. When we have a system like Australia, we're probably going to have worst case than anyone in the world as people don't listen to government and so does the government don't listen to people. No cooperation at all. This is the time that everyone should support each other but not happening at all. Sad truth.

Mar 20th
Reply (2)

Elle Dunn

my main concern with my child going ro school is the mental health impact. for young kids it's all about hugs and closeness. How do we stop these changes becoming a permanent anxiety for our small kids

Mar 19th
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George Melbourne

I've also heard it's because of 5G technology lol

Mar 19th
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Peter Brooks

daily information. great. in enjoying it. Hope the prime minister's listening

Mar 19th
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Erik Steen

Very informative podcast. Well done.

Mar 17th
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Loli RB

is it safe to do outdoor boxing with a trainer? worried for both client and trainer!

Mar 15th
Reply

Loli RB

is it safe to do outdoor boxing with a trainer? worried for both client and trainer!

Mar 15th
Reply

Robert Reeve

Why do you advise NOT to eat a lot of red and white meat? How much is "a lot"? Where is the evidence to suggest that it is detrimental to health?

Mar 15th
Reply

Peter Burgess

I found the cast very informative. Well done presenters and ABC.

Mar 14th
Reply

Lia Mitchell

We must listen to Italy and learn from them NOW. Why is our government waiting????

Mar 13th
Reply

Kaela Foley

Great discussion. Informative without the panic

Mar 13th
Reply
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