The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research

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An update on our COVID-19 research
13
Apr

An update on our COVID-19 research

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Researchers at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research are working to understand and manage COVID-19. 

Below are updates from just some of our projects. COVID-19 will have long-term impacts, especially for people with respiratory and lung conditions. Make sure you sign up to our email updates to hear about the outcomes of these projects and other research we're working on.

Protecting frontline workers and the community

Professors Euan Tovey and Guy Marks were key researchers in a ground-breaking international study on mask-wearing protocols and ventilation for frontline staff.

The research reinforces the importance of maintaining social distance, having excellent ventilation in buildings and transport, and using effective masks.

Read a news item about the research.

Data on COVID-19 and respiratory disease

In late 2020/early 2021, the Australian Centre for Airways Disease Monitoring (ACAM), based at the Woolcock, conducted two large web-based surveys – one to estimate breathlessness in the general population (10,024 adults) and one to identify Australian adults with difficult-to-treat or severe asthma (5,500 respondents). In both surveys, which were of nationally-representative populations, we included questions about COVID-19 and vaccine willingness.

The surveys will provide invaluable data on the impact of COVID-19 for people with respiratory illness. We will use the survey data to explore the relationships between COVID-19 – for example, changes in behaviour since the onset of COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination willingness – and respiratory disease in Australia. The datasets (but not the individual data) will also be able to be accessed by other researchers, so we hope the information will feed into work others are doing to understand COVID-19 and improve treatment and management of the virus in people with difficult-to-treat or severe asthma.

For more information about these invaluable datasets, contact Leanne Poulos, Project Manager at ACAM, on leanne.poulos@sydney.edu.au

COVID-19 in Vietnam

Woolcock Vietnam is working on a range of projects to understand and respond to COVID-19 in Vietnam. The research group recently released a report with updates on four key projects:

  • Measuring the prevalence of COVID-19 in Vietnam
  • Using X-rays to understand the health impacts of COVID-19
  • Understanding people's experience of COVID-19
  • Implementing a large-scale vaccine program in Vietnam

As part of the report, the team produced infographics and a video. Read the report on our COVID-19 work in Vietnam.

Respiratory technology 

Our Respiratory Technology Research Group has been collaborating with several international pharmaceutical companies and researchers to help develop upper and lower respiratory tract treatments and preventative measures against COVID-19.

They are also investigating the effectiveness of personal protective equipment (PPE) in protecting health workers against exposure to COVID-19.

Joining the public conversation

Our experts have also been adding to the public understanding of COVID-19.

In March 2021, the ABC reported on Professor Euan Tovey's and Professor Guy Marks's research on aerosols and masks. Read Australian researchers find COVID-19 aerosol spread that puts some healthcare workers at risk over others on the ABC News website.

In February 2021, Professor Brian Oliver wrote a widely-shared opinion piece in the Conversation clarifying issues about whether nebulisers can help spread COVID-19

In December 2019 the results of a study about working from home in pyjamas during the COVID-19 pandemic were widely reported in the media. The study found that, although working in pyjamas did not lower a person's productivity, it was linked to poorer mental health.

The future is unclear

Although Australia has managed the COVID-19 pandemic well compared to many other countries, the long-term health impacts of the pandemic are unclear.

What will be the long-term effects of COVID-19 for people with respiratory and lung disease? Will the pandemic have unforeseen impacts?

We will continue our important research on understanding the personal and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. And we'll be reporting results from this work as the nature and impacts of the pandemic become clearer.

To stay in touch with what we find, signup to our email updates, or follow us on FacebookTwitter, or Linkedin.

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