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Jacinda Ardern wearing a mask, pointing at a map of New Zealand
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VIDEO: Two experts on the race for a COVID-19 vaccine and preparing Australia and New Zealand for the next pandemic

How hopeful should Australians and New Zealanders be about COVID-19 vaccines becoming available in 2021? And what do we need to learn from 2020 and this pandemic as we speed towards the new year?

On November 5 2020, The Conversation and Avid Reader bookshop hosted a special trans-Tasman online event, giving our readers a chance to question two leading vaccine and virus experts.

The video below features the University of Queensland’s Professor Paul Young, one of Australia’s top virologists and co-leader of the UQ vaccine project, and the University of Otago’s Professor David Murdoch, a clinical microbiologist and infectious diseases physician, who has consulted for the World Health Organization.

They’re in conversation with Liz Minchin and an audience of Conversation readers. You also get to hear from Molly Glassey, the editor of The Conversation’s yearbook, 2020: The Year That Changed Us.

The Conversation’s trans-Tasman COVID-19 event, held on November 5 2020.

Too long, can’t watch it all? Jump to these highlights

8:15 When will the UQ vaccine be ready? — Paul Young’s response

10:08 The Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has said “the expectation is that Australians who sought vaccination will be vaccinated within 2021”. Do you agree? — Paul Young

11:24 Will there be COVID-19 vaccines available for some New Zealanders in 2021? — David Murdoch

Researchers standing in a room with patients and nurses.
Healthy volunteers getting a trial dose of a University of Queensland developed vaccine in July 2020, with project co-leaders Professor Paul Young (centre), Professor Trent Munto (left) and Associate Professor Keith Chappell (right). The University of Queensland, Author provided

11:48 What are the lessons we need to learn from this pandemic? — Paul Young on the importance of discovery science.

16:57 David, you’ve said “COVID-19 is being referred to as a ‘once in a century event’ — but the next pandemic is likely to hit sooner than you think”. Why? — David Murdoch

18:53 A major new UN report warned up to 850,000 undiscovered viruses that could be transferred to humans are thought to exist in mammal and avian hosts. As co-director of One Health Aotearoa, can you quickly explain what a one health approach means, and why you argue Western countries like New Zealand and Australia need to adopt that approach? — David Murdoch

22:15 Paul Young on the risk of not having sovereign capacity to mass produce all types of vaccines in Australia, and how Australia and New Zealand are now talking about how to work together on producing future vaccines.

26:08 Audience Q&A: will there be different types of vaccines for different age groups? — Paul Young on how the UQ vaccine trial and others are working to include people aged 56 and over, the group most at risk of severe COVID.

Two women wearing masks outside New Zealand's parliament building in Wellington.
Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

27:24 Audience Q&A: Whatever happened to the Russian vaccine? — Paul Young

28:15 Audience Q&A: Is climate change the main cause of the spread of diseases like this one? — David Murdoch

29:52 Audience Q&A: Long COVID in young people hasn’t yet arrived in full. Are we prepared to deal with the coming chronic disease load? — David Murdoch and Paul Young

32:15 Audience Q&A: Have you got any idea what [COVID-19 treatments] they gave to Donald Trump and whether they made him well? — Paul Young

33:30 Audience Q&A: What’s the relevance of the CSIRO in all this [COVID] research? — Paul Young

35:30 Audience Q&A: Are there any reassurances about side effects for people who get the vaccine early? — Paul Young

36:40 Audience Q&A: What commitment have Australia and New Zealand given to helping poorer countries pay for vaccines? — Paul Young and David Murdoch

Scott Morrison in a white lab coat
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison touring the University of Queensland’s vaccine lab in October 2020. Darren England/AAP

37:50 Audience Q&A: The spread of viruses from animals: is it purely from consuming meat, or can it be picked up in other ways? — Paul Young

39:00 Audience Q&A: The UN report was frightening […] Is it inevitable this will be the pandemic century? — David Murdoch and Paul Young

50:00 Audience Q&A: Why aren’t we implementing an area-based “traffic light system” to stop the spread of COVID-19? — Paul Young and David Murdoch

52:30 Audience Q&A: What do we do to combat the rise of conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination information? — David Murdoch and Paul Young

Want to read more? Extra links mentioned in the event

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