Flu deaths prevented as cases plummet amid coronavirus lockdowns, AMA says

New data as reported by the ABC suggest that social distancing measures, reduced travel and other restrictions implemented in the COVID-19 pandemic appear to have resulted in a sharp decline in the number of influenza cases. 

Dr Chris Moy of the Australian Medical Association is careful to note that we may have actually delayed an influenza outbreak, but still believes the number of influenza cases will be less as we have a far more immunised population this year. 

Read more here: 

ABC: Flu deaths prevented as cases plummet amid coronavirus lockdowns, AMA says 

The MVEC team strongly support vaccination as a way to protect from seasonal influenza, read more in our MVEC Influenza vaccine recommendations

COVID19 Road to a vaccine podcast episode 3: Professor Andrew Pollard

In episode 3 of our COVID19 Road to a vaccine series our host, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford will be speaking to Professor Andrew Pollard, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity at the University of Oxford. Professor Pollard is head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who, along with the Jenner Institute, are running the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial.
They will be be discussing:
  • ​The Oxford Vaccine Centre's COVID-19 vaccine trial being run by the Oxford Vaccine Group and The Jenner Institute which Professor Pollard is co-leading 
  • How the Oxford Vaccine Group's previous work on the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus vaccine enabled them to commence work on a SARS-2 vaccine very quickly, using the same platform
  • How the prior research into MERS and SARS vaccines gave huge insight into biology of coronaviruses and likely protective antigens
  • Vaccine safety concerns in vaccine development like antibody enhanced disease (AED) and the important role of vaccine safety in trial design and evaluation
  • An update on progress of The Oxford Vaccine Centre's current trials with the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine
  • The use of a control arm in randomised trials and how the COVID-19 Oxford Vaccine Trial are using a meningococcal vaccine in their control arm 
  • How declining disease in the community resulting in lower transmission and flattening of the curve affects both vaccine trial design and location of study sites
  • The upscaling of vaccine manufacturing required in a pandemic and how critical it is that there is global, equitable access to vaccine(s) when they are available
You can listen via our podcast page or via the links below:

COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 2: Professor Kathryn Edwards

In episode 2 of our ‘COVID19 Road to a vaccine series’, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), Melbourne, Australia, speaks with Professor Kathryn Edwards. Dr Edwards is a professor of paediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is also vice-chair for clinical research. She is an internationally-recognised expert in vaccinology and, in particular, vaccine safety. 
They will be discussing the important topic of vaccine safety when developing a new vaccine, including some of the challenges faced in the COVID19 vaccine development pathway.
In this episode they discuss:
  • Professor Edwards' perspective on vaccine safety across her roles as a clinician/scientist/researcher
  • Adverse events following immunisation and their implications when developing new vaccines
  • Vaccine safety across the different phases (I to IV) of clinical trials
  • The importance of data safety and monitoring committees in vaccine trials
  • What we can learn from the historical research into the development of SARS and MERS vaccines
  • What is ADE (antibody-dependent enhancement of virus infection) and why is it an important consideration in COVID19 vaccine development?
  • What are adjuvants and how does the use of them affect safety planning?
  • Should pregnant women and children be involved in vaccine trials and how can their participation be managed safely?
  • The importance of transparency and honest communication with the public in regards to vaccine safety

You can listen to the episode via our podcast page or via the links below:

स्प्रेकर - सेब - Spotify 

COVID19 Road to a vaccine episode 1: Professor Stanley Plotkin

In Episode 1 of our new podcast series, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, a vaccinologist and consultant paediatrician at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) & Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Melbourne, talks with Stanley Plotkin, Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania; who is well known internationally for his role in vaccine development.

In this episode they discuss:

  • Professor Plotkin’s role in the development of the rubella vaccine, still used throughout the world today
  • His role as the Editor in Chief of the ‘Vaccines’ textbook
  • His role in the formation of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI) and CEPI’s current role in global COVID-19 vaccine development
  • What can we learn from the H1N1 pandemic in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine?
  • How developing a vaccine against coronaviruses is critical to the future of civilisation as economies are being destroyed by these viruses
  • Human challenge models and some of the ethical considerations we need to tackle if these sorts of trials are going to be undertaken to support COVID-19 vaccine development
  • Success can only be achieved through global collaboration in the pursuit of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • How the practical aspects of distributing a vaccine on this scale have never been faced before and the importance of thinking outside the box!


Listen to the episode here:

स्प्रेकर - Apple Podcasts - Spotify Podcasts 

Special MVEC podcast series: COVID19 Road to a vaccine

The year 2020 has seen the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID19), a unique and potentially devastating virus, with no known prevention or treatment. This new SARS-2 virus has shown to not only have significant international health implications, but also immense psychological and economic impacts. Associate Professor Nigel Crawford, a vaccinologist and consultant paediatrician at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) & Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Melbourne, will delve into the global pursuit of a safe and effective vaccine to prevent COVID19. This is all occurring at ‘pandemic speed’ and MVEC’s new podcast will explore this complicated and multi-faceted process through interviews with a variety of national and international vaccine experts.

In our first few episodes, we will be talking with vaccine experts Emeritus Professor Stanley Plotkin, Professor Kathryn Edwards and Professor Andrew Pollard. 

Listen via our podcast page or subscribe below on your preferred podcast platform:

स्प्रेकर - Apple podcasts - Spotify podcasts 

ATAGI guiding principles for maintaining immunisation services during the COVID-19 pandemic

Immunisation remains an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic and it is very important immunisation providers maintain routine immunisation services whilst complying with measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

If scheduled vaccines are missed or delayed and the overall vaccination coverage rates drop, the risk of a resurgence of a well-controlled vaccine preventable disease like measles is increased. If this happens during or after the current pandemic, it places further stress on the health care system.

With this  in mind, ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) have released guiding principles on maintaining immunisation services during the COVID-19 pandemic:

ATAGI: Guiding principles for maintaining immunisation services during the COVID-19 pandemic

New podcast: COVID-19 and children featuring Associate Professor Nigel Crawford

Associate Professor Nigel Crawford is interviewed by Dr Harry Nespolon, GP and RACGP president on Healthed Australia's Going Viral podcast. They discuss COVID-19 and children and cover the following:

  • Are children super-spreaders, asymptomatic shedders?
  • Transmission at school and home – what do we know?
  • Febrile child – should I suspect COVID-19?
  • Childcare considerations
  • Flu co-infection and vaccination
  • Newborns and vertical transmission

You can listen to the podcast here:

Healthed Australia: Going Viral Episode 27: Children, newborns and transmission; childcare considerations; flu co-infection and vaccination

Clinical trial of BCG vaccine against COVID-19 (BRACE)

Led by Professor Nigel Curtis, Researchers at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute are conducting a randomised controlled clinical trial of the BCG vaccine against COVID-19. The study, known as the BRACE trial (BCG vaccination to Reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Australian healthcare workers following Coronavirus Exposure), has been endorsed by the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Designed to provide protection against tuberculosis, the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine may also potentially provide immunity to protect against other infections. The purpose of the BRACE trial is to investigate whether or not BCG vaccination protects against COVID-19 or reduces the severity of symptoms of COVID-19 in healthcare workers.

This has led to people who do not meet the criteria for the trial seeking to have the BCG vaccine.

MVEC and physician BCG experts, have reached a consensus position on this issue, as detailed below:

We strongly advise against anyone having BCG outside of a clinical trial, unless they meet criteria as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook tuberculosis guidelines.

BCG vaccine is known to be effective in protecting young children from tuberculosis, and has been affected by global shortages in recent years.  Using a vaccine (like BCG), for a non-proven use, carries risks to those vaccinated and those who prescribe it. Furthermore, additional use of BCG vaccine outside a trial, could lead to shortages for infants who need it to protect against tuberculosis. Many travel clinics providing BCG have been placed on-hold due to the current limitations on overseas travel.  However, travel and hospital-based BCG clinics will aim to increase access to the vaccine when travel restrictions (including to tuberculosis endemic countries) are lifted.

Authorised by:

  • Dr Nigel Curtis, Dr Nigel Crawford, Dr Jim Buttery, Dr Shidan Tosif, Dr Daryl Cheng and Dr Teresa Lazzaro
    -8th April 2020


Telethon Kids provide COVID-19 resources for parents, families and schools

The Telethon Kids Institute have created resources for parents, families and schools in which their experts provide up to date advice and address community concerns (including a video Q & A session from kids in the community). 

Their information is reliable, current and based on the best-available evidence.

You can view their resources at:

Telethon Kids: COVID-19