COVID-19 UPDATE, 15th April 2020

NIHI’s response to COVID-19

Professor Chris Bullen’s involvement in the COVID-19 response

Our Director, Professor Chris Bullen along with other Epidemiological experts from the University of Auckland are working on using datasets available from the IDI to model where potential future COVID-19 ‘hotspots’ may occur. They are currently working with a group from the University of Otago to design a seroprevalence survey to map where COVID-19 infection has occurred in Auckland.

He is also coordinating about a dozen public health medicine specialists from the University of Auckland to undertake rapid evidence reviews for Auckland Regional Public Health and for the Ministry of Health.

As a member of the epidemiology sub-group of the Technical Advisory Group, he is providing advice and expert comment on epidemiological matters arising from the COVID-19 response to the Ministry of Health.

A small group (Associate Professor Natalie Walker, Judith McCool, Vili Nosa, Jessica McCormack and Professor Chris Bullen) has been working with Horizon Research, a New Zealand market research company, on a series of national online surveys to measure the knowledge of COVID-19 symptoms, strategies for minimising transmission and intention to adhere to government advice, and feeding the results to the Ministry of Health to inform their communications.

Finally, Professor Chris Bullen is part of the Auckland Regional Public Health team contact tracing COVID-19 cases.

Staying up-to-date with accurate information

Manoj Alwis has developed a website that aggregates COVID-19 information from other websites to enable ready access to accurate, up-to-date information about the pandemic in New Zealand and overseas. Follow the latest developments in real time here.

Innovation at NIHI

Professor Chris Bullen, Associate Professor Natalie Walker, Pragya Nandan and PhD student Jimmy (Jinsong) Chen have been working with other groups at the University of Auckland on a range of proposals for innovative tools, including wearables to change viral transmission risk behaviours.

Together with local start-up Ark Health Discovery they have been working on their social media-based COVID-19 chatbot as well as mobile games for use with other social media platforms. These innovative proposals aim to enable access to accurate information and support the wellbeing of people in self-isolation or quarantine in New Zealand and China.

In addition, several NIHI staff and collaborators are working on digital solutions, including chatbots and apps, to remind people of strategies put in place to minimise transmission risk, appropriate health-seeking behaviour as well as mental health and wellbeing maintenance during the lockdown period. We are looking forward to revealing more of this work soon.