COVID-19 opinion and commentary

University academics across many disciplines are talking to the media and writing insightful articles about COVID-19. We’ve pulled some of these together here and will keep this page updated.

23 April

Google and Apple have announced the development of a platform for the purposes of contact tracing Covid-19. Image: iStock

COVID-19 mass surveillance terrifying for the future
In uncertain times, surveillance is being offered as a necessary evil to fight the bigger enemy. But, as Matt Bartlett argues, we shouldn't be too quick to embrace our new saviour.
Read on Newsroom

Not too late to change abhorrently wasteful policy
Adjustments to the fiscally wasteful Winter Energy Payment policy could save the Government $450 million. Surely that's money low-income workers could use as NZ comes out of lockdown, writes Susan St John.
Read on Newsroom

22 April

Coronavirus: Supply issues could last to next year
University of Auckland Professor Ilan Oshri specialises in global supply chains, and says we should expect shortages of many consumer goods until mid-way through next year.
Listen on Radio New Zealand

21 April

Coronavirus: Kiwi patriotism, trust in institutions rise amid pandemic, major study finds
University of Auckland psychology professor Chris Sibley says that when facing an external threat, humans tend to tighten bonds – including bonding on a national level – to repel the threat the virus poses.
Read on Stuff

COVID-19 home gardening could see healthier Pacific diets
Dr Colin Tukuitonga is the Associate Dean for the Pacific at Auckland University's Health and Medical Sciences faculty. He talks about how in light of the coronavirus pandemic more people, across the Pacific’s city centres, are turning to home gardening and planting their own food.
Listen on ABC

Covid-19: Vital that tikanga adapts again
The voice of kaumātua is key to Māori wellbeing beyond the Covid-19 crisis - and a
new study seeks their understanding and advice on how tikanga might
have to change.
Read on Newsroom

20 April

During this time, teens may face increased loneliness, stress, and anxiety. Be on the lookout for signs of mental health issues, says Joanna Chu. Photo: iStock

Parenting teens in lockdown
Opinion: Think you are failing as a parent? Feeling guilt over increased screen use? Don’t. Joanna Chu explains undermining your parenting won’t help your teenagers.
Read on the University website

How to move to level 2 as quickly as possible
We can get to level 2 quite quickly with the right monitoring and tracing, if testing capacity is sufficient and results are speedy, say leading New Zealand scientists.
Read on the University website

Putting the Covid-19 tests to the test
Opinion: With hundreds of testing alternatives available, it is crucial that we pay close attention to what is in play, and which are most effective. Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles guides us through them.
Read on the University website

Conflict, climate and contagion: refugees suffer
Opinion: As the world and New Zealand shut borders, millions of refugees are forgotten in high density camps. Jay Marlowe argues we can't only look inward in fighting COVID-19.
Read on Newsroom

Arts: Healing balms for a sick world
Professor Peter O’Connor has long been an advocate of the importance of arts in healing after trauma. Here, he gives his views on the role the arts may step into post-COVID-19.
Read on ArtsHub

19 April

The relevance of te Tiriti o Waitangi in the COVID-19 era
Opinion: Where does te Tiriti o Waitangi fit in Government pandemic emergency powers, regulations and obligations? Right at the centre, writes Claire Charters.
Read on the University website

18 April

CPR decisions in a pandemic
Opinion: Controversy over ambulance officers giving CPR to Covid-19 patients highlights a stark reality, writes Natalie Anderson: CPR is not a cure for ordinary dying.
Read on the University website

17 April

Inside the ventilator question
Opinion: COVID-19 is making us think about many things we have never had to consider before – one of them is the use of ventilators, writes a group of University of Auckland experts.
Read on the University website

COVID-19 in pregnancy: an NZ response
Pregnancy and childbirth can be an anxious time for many women, but imagine navigating it while in lock down without access to the usual support networks. Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist, Dr Katie Groom, has some words of reassurance.
Read on the University website

How Covid-19 could be good for dating
Opinion: Relationship educator Holly Dixon says while sex with someone outside your bubble is out-of-bounds, now might be a better time than ever to find a partner.
Read on the University website

16 April

Dame Anne Salmond says we need to rebuild correctly.

Anne Salmond: We need more than shovels to rebuild NZ post-COVID-19
After lockdown, we will need to take a hard look at how we rebuild. ‘Infrastructure’ means a lot more than motorways, writes Dame Anne Salmond.
Read on The Spinoff

Lockdown reality for ‘other’ NZ
Scenes of privileged families locked down with their designer kitchens and overflowing pantries is obscuring some serious social suffering from those less well-off, writes Dr Ian Hyslop.
Read on Newsroom

COVID-19: Data on contact tracing, tests, borders needed to inform lockdown level - scientists
There appear to be gaps in the government's data on COVID-19 that must be filled before a decision is made on reducing the lockdown level, two top advisors say.
Read on Radio New Zealand

Coronavirus: Social distrust could linger after COVID-19 lockdown
Post-lockdown reunions are unlikely to include rushing to hug a friend or going straight in for the handshake, as Kiwis will struggle with some social distrust due to coronavirus.
As New Zealand heads into the potential final week at alert level four, overcoming the problems of going back to normal life will not be easy, according to experts.
Read on Stuff


15 April

Universal basic income: be careful what you wish for
Any universal basic income NZ implements would likely be far too low, helping all the wrong people and leaving those in desperate need even worse off. Adapting what we already have in place is a much safer approach, writes Associate Professor of Economics Susan St John.
Read on Newsroom

Lockdown for Pacific an opportunity to reset diets says academic
The lockdown to contain COVID-19 is a golden opportunity for Pacific nations to reset their diets, according to an Auckland University academic.
Dean of Pasifika at the Auckland Medical School, Colin Tukuitonga, who previously headed the Pacific Community, said people can use the isolation to achieve some personal good.
Read on Radio New Zealand

14 April

Expert want authorities to let loved one sees dying patients
University of Auckland Professor Ron Paterson, a former health and disability commissioner, told Heather du Plessis-Allan that it is heartbreaking to let people die alone, for both the individuals that are dying and their families.
Listen on Newstalk ZB

Vital supplies: produce locally and stock up
New Zealand was well placed with local production of some vital goods before the lockdown - but will need to protect local supply lines and key stocks of goods, says Professor Tava Olsen of the University of Auckland.
Read on Newsroom

13 April

Why the birds are back - and how to keep them here
In lockdown, noise, light and air pollution are all greatly reduced, and birds and other wildlife are more visible and audible. Associate Professo Margaret Stanley explains how we might keep them in the cities.
Read on Newsroom

10 April

Pacific defences: ocean, isolation and lockdown
Opinion: The natural isolation of small Pacific islands set in the huge Pacific Ocean could prove to be the defining factor if these vulnerable nations manage to remain free of COVID-19. There is every reason to be optimistic if these small nations can keep rigid restrictions in place, writes Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Associate Dean Pacific at the University of Auckland's Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.
Read on Newsroom

9 April

After the crisis: Cities are the future
There is a great deal of anxiety about COVID-19 but in many ways we're much better off than we would be after a natural disaster: the water will keep flowing, the power will stay on, the sewers will keep working. The University of Auckland's Bill McKay makes a case for city living. 
Read on Newsroom

8 April

Dr Jessica Maxwell has tips on how to preserve relationships under lockdown.

Protecting your relationship under lockdown
The University of Auckland's Dr Jessica Maxwell and Professor Nickola Overall offer some
advice on how to maintain your wellbeing and relationships under extreme conditions.
Read on Newsroom

COVID-19: How New Zealand's level 4 lockdown might end
Together with his fellow researchers at Te Pūnaha Matatini - a research cluster that studies complex systems - Shaun Hendy has been working on new modelling of COVID-19's spread in New Zealand that can better predict short-term outcomes.
Read on Radio New Zealand

A different perspective on COVID-19
There is a trade-off: how many lives will be taken by COVID-19 and how many lives will be lost due to our attempts to prevent loss of lives from COVID-19, writes Professor Ananish Chaudhuri of the University of Auckland.
Read on Newsroom

7 April

Intergenerational ethics and the COVID-19 bailout
Who should ultimately pay for all the money that businesses are getting: is it the ones who receive help now, paying it back over the next few years out of their revenues?
University of Auckland's Professor Tim Mulgan is a Global Expert on Intergenerational Ethics, and joined Kerre McIvor to discuss the ongoing situation.
Listen on Newstalk ZB

Healthy brains in isolated times
The University of Auckland's David Moreau has some recommendations to help minimise the impact of this unprecedented situation on our brain fitness.
Read on Newsroom

6 April

Smashing down the barriers: Where are we at with COVID vaccines?
Opinion: Associate Professor Helen Petousis-Harris summarises the vaccine scene with respect to COVID-19, with an extra reminder of what we should do to stay safe in the meantime.
Read on the University website

Coronavirus data of New Zealand cases missing and inconsistent - scientist says good data needed for good decisions
Key data guiding critical decision-making on COVID-19 is filled with gaps and even inaccuracies, with detailed information held only at a local level by regional health units.
Read on the Herald

People queue outside Victoria St Countdown. Image by Chris Russell, used with permission.

3 April

Sunday at Countdown
Opinion: Last Sunday, medical student Emma Espiner made a slow and deliberate trip to the supermarket, where she found that we are approaching social distancing in a very New Zealand way.
Read on the University website

Deciphering New Zealand's COVID-19 Numbers
Opinion: Will there be 20 deaths, or 27,000? Virus mortality projections offer Kiwis very different outlooks - Robert Bartholomew explains the the missing variables that could determine which of these predictions will become our reality.
Read on the University website

2 April

How epidemics change us
Opinion: Beyond direct impact on demography and genome, pandemics have brought dramatic change across history. Tatjana Buklijas considers the impact of COVID-19.
Read on the University website

Coronavirus Covid-19: Why does virus spread faster in cold months?
Dr Felicia Low, a research fellow at University of Auckland-based think tank Koi Tū: the Centre for Informed Futures, has been reviewing a fast-growing number of papers looking at the link.
Read on the Herald

Could existing drugs help combat COVID-19?
Opinion: Could pre-existing drugs also be used to treat COVID-19? Associate Professor Mark Thomas provides insight into a clinical trial set to get underway at Auckland Hospital.
Read on the University website

1 April

Lessons from another lockdown
The University of Auckland's Nicholas Rowe draws some parallels between the restrictions in West Bank and Gaza Strip during the second intifada and the current lockdown in New Zealand
Read on Newsroom

Siouxsie Wiles & Toby Morris: Why those bubbles are so important
A quick reminder why we need to hold firm, and resist any temptation to bend the rules.
Read on The Spinoff

31 March

Coronavirus: Academic calls out lack of physical distancing at superette as 'reckless'
It's "reckless" and "irresponsible", according to an Auckland University academic, who says physical distancing is an absolute necessity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Read on Stuff

29 March

Professor Shaun Hendy talks to 1 News

'Anticipate international travel restrictions for quite some time', Covid-19 modelling expert warns
Don't expect international travel restrictions to lift anytime soon, warns Professor Shaun Hendy who's is leading a team modelling the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.
Watch on TVNZ

Coronavirus: Can you catch it twice?
University of Auckland's Helen Petousis-Harris, John Taylor and Nikki Moreland talk to Newshub
Read on Newshub

28 March

Survival of the fittest and other cruel logic
Opinion: Donald Trump and Boris Johnson's response to coronavirus has revealed some disturbing attitudes towards segments of the population, writes Neal Curtis.
Read on the University website

27 March

Don’t let hope be a casualty of the virus
Imagining our lives will get better again is part of the healing process as a nation, writes the University of Auckland's Peter O'Connor.
Read on Newsroom

26 March

Illustration by Toby Morris, The Spinoff

Covid-19: The maths that explains why we're locking down
Want to avoid COVID-19? Skip the high dose vitamin C, and take a moment to learn about the statistical modelling that helps us understand how diseases spread. Shaun Hendy explains.
Read on The Spinoff

Covid-19 coronavirus: How scientists stop the virus explained
How can scientists hope to stop the monster threat that is COVID-19? One of New Zealand's most respected scientists - the University of Auckland's Professor Peter Shepherd, who has helped develop new drugs to treat diseases - talked to Herald science reporter Jamie Morton.
Read on the Herald

Siouxsie Wiles & Toby Morris: You’re waking up in lockdown New Zealand. Here’s how it works
Alert level four is go. Let’s talk bubbles. Siouxsie Wiles explains what it’s all about, with illustrations by Toby Morris.
Read on The Spinoff

25 March

New Zealand's coronavirus lockdown: The need for co-leadership with Māori
While the COVID-19 lockdown is needed, it will likely exacerbate major social and economic inequities, underlining the need for co-leadership with Māori, writes Dr Rhys Jones.
Read on the University website

Viruses vs Everyone
Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris, with help from Dr Siouxsie Wiles, looks at the coronavirus up close. And from a long way away.
Read on The Spinoff

The first NZ Covid-19 cases: What do they show?
Professor Shaun Hendy comments on current available data on New Zealand's confirmed coronavirus cases.
Read on the Otage Daily Times website

Surviving lockdown with young children
Child development expert Annette Henderson has some tips for working parents to cope at home while caring for school-age children.
Read on the University website

24 March

Times of trial
Once again, New Zealanders are caught up in world events that will test our mettle. This time, the battles will be fought at home, writes Dame Anne Salmond.
Read on the Spinoff website

Coronavirus: WHO warns pandemic is accelerating
Professor Shaun Hendy comments on the latest warning from the World Health Organisation.
Read on the RNZ website

Siouxsie Wiles wants a word with your parents
Such is the importance of New Zealanders getting behind the requirement to self-isolate, Siouxsie Wiles has been offering to personally telephone the parents of people worried they’re not taking it seriously enough.
More on The Spinoff

Peter Gluckman: Beyond this acute phase
While we are in the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to think about the long term, but we must, writes Distinguished Professor Peter Gluckman.
Read on the University website

23 March

Early cases of community transmission detected - associate professor
Enough COVID-19 testing is happening in New Zealand to establish that early cases of community transmission are occurring, a University of Auckland lecturer Mark Thomas says.
Read article and listen to interview on the RNZ website

22 March

Race for a 'safe and effective' coronavirus vaccine underway, expert explains
The race to prepare and test a coronavirus vaccine is already well underway, but there are conflicting reports as to how long it could take.  Doctor Helen Petousis-Harris talks to TVNZ.
Read the article and watch the video on the TVNZ website

Coronavirus: Controls could cut Kiwi deaths from 60,000 to 10,000
Auckland University physics professor Shaun Hendy is one of several New Zealand scientists mining data from infected countries to model what a COVID-19 outbreak would look like in New Zealand.
Read the article on the Stuff website

Siouxsie Wiles & Toby Morris: What does 'level two' mean – and why does it matter?
The alert system signals the start of a new phase in NZ's battle against COVID-19.
Read article on The Spinoff website

Could existing drugs help combat Covid-19? NZ experts weigh in
An anti-malaria drug could be a possible treatment for COVID-19, alongside other existing medicines. Here’s what the experts think.
Read article on The Spinoff

20 March

Why equity for Māori must be prioritised during the COVID-19 response
Opinion: Māori have fared worst in every pandemic New Zealand has seen. Measures must be taken to ensure equity during the COVID-19 outbreak or history will repeat, writes public health physician and senior lecturer Dr Rhys Jones.
Read on the University website

Koi Tū, the virus and the future
The COVID-19-pandemic has brought into stark focus the interaction between science, experts, society, policymaking and politics, by Sir Peter Gluckmann
Read on the Centre for Informed Futures website

18 March

Siouxsie Wiles: How testing for COVID-19 works
How the process runs, why we’re not testing everyone who feels ill, and something you can do online immediately and easily to help the fight against the virus.
Read on The Spinoff