The past year has also seen significant changes in academic publishing. There has been an emphasis on rapid dissemination of research findings during the pandemic, increasing the prominence of pre-publication manuscripts and reinforcing the need for timely peer review. There has been a significant increase in the volume of manuscripts submitted, including to the AJPH.
At the same time, it is more difficult than ever to find peer reviewers for submitted articles. There has been a significant increase in the pressures on people’s time, through their paid jobs, but also because of juggling caring responsibilities during multiple lockdowns. Many people have been redeployed to support health systems and organisations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Government’s decision to not provide any financial support to universities during the pandemic has led to thousands of jobs being lost across the sector over the past year, with more losses likely to come. Precarious employment has become even more entrenched and fewer people are in jobs that include service to the profession as part of their roles. This leads to fewer people being able to undertake reviews at the time we need high-quality peer review most.
— Read on www.publish.csiro.au/py/Fulltext/PYv27n6_ED
It’s been a pleasure being an Associate Editor for AJPH, and it was good to have this opportunity to reflect on the pst year with Virginia Lewis and Jenny Macmillan as I’m stepping down.
“We are always engaged after there is a problem – never upfront. The damage that has been done is quite severe on the ground and there is a lot of feeling that this is racist”- Randa Kattan, CEO of the Arab Council Australia
“This current pandemic again highlights that there is a critical need to ensure services, communication and efforts and other pandemic strategies are designed and delivered in a culturally responsive way,” she said. Seale stressed collaboration with people from CALD backgrounds, including refugee communities, was critical to improving future pandemic plans as well as continuing ongoing COVID-19 activities.
Lots of issues were discussed, but some of the recurrent themes were:
The critical need for concise, timely, and accessible plain English information for multicultural communities, in order to enable official translations, but also so that commmunities can draw on ths information for ther own communication and messaging.
We need to be genuinely working with people and organisations who are already working with CALD communities, and who are trusted by them. In doing this we need to reduce the emphasis on “pushing out” messages, towards more genine dialogue.
Emphasise and reocgnise the strength of communities and work that has alrady been done. We also need to recognise that most of this has been voluntary and unpaid – and that resources are needed.
While there has been fantastic work done at local and regional levels, there is a still a need for coordination at state and Commonwealth levels.
Better information-sharing would reduce duplication of resources, but also enable capacity sharing (culural understanding and advice, translation, interpreting, etc).
Written information isn’t enough. Audio and video information is more shareable online, and helps to overcome the complexitiies of written information (too much is still written at a Grade 12 level, needs to be at a Grade 8 level).
Speed is critical to combat misinformation.
The next step will be to share a report and the videos from the event, as well as further coverage by Croakey. In the meantime, the tweets below show some of the research and resources that were shared,
We had a pretty wide-ranging discussion about health equity, how the COVID response could be exacerbating health inequities, vaccination for teachers, and how the return to classrooms might play out – including the role that HEPA filters might play.
We also briefly spoke about the early 20th-century movement for open-air schooling, and how some of these design ideas may make a comeback
Vaccine hesitancy across Australia has fallen from 21.8% on 7th August to 20.3% on 20th August
This fall is concentrated amongst those who were previously unsure, with 8.6% unsure on 20th August compared to 9.8% two weeks earlier. The percentage unwilling to be vaccinated has not changed much in the past month
Vaccine hesitancy in NSW is still the lowest in Australia. However, hesitancy has increased slightly in NSW despite the continuing rise in cases of COVID-19, from 17.3% on 7th August to 18% on 20th August
In NSW over the last two weeks, more people are unwilling to be vaccinated (from 9.2% to 11.8%) and fewer are unsure (from 8.1% to 6.2%). Those who are unsure are more likely to be influenced by incentives. More information can be found in this Research Insight article
Interestingly, I noted that a US academic has also written for The Conversation US about HEPA filters in schools, and sums up some of the equity considerations and limitations quite well:
In-room HEPA filtration is a long-term investment that supplements existing ventilation systems. And though COVID-19 was the impetus for the installation of many HEPA filters, they are effective for far more than just reducing exposures to airborne viruses. Well-maintained and properly functioning filtration systems also reduce exposure to wildfire ash that can penetrate buildings, as well as allergens and other unwanted particles like automobile exhaust, tire detritus and construction dust.
But even the best indoor HEPA filtration cannot guarantee protection from airborne respiratory threats in schools. HEPA filters are effective only as part of an integrated approach. Ultimately, masks, distancing and reducing the number of students packed into tight spaces will determine how well students are protected from COVID-19.
But here’s the thing: what 2010-era sociologist or political scientist would have predicted that a major global pandemic would occur in the next several decades, that an almost miraculous search for an effective vaccine would be successful in an amazingly short period — and that the pandemic and vaccine would become a political issue leading to mass refusal to vaccinate? All global epidemiologists believed the first proposition — that pandemic would occur sometime; some biological researchers thought that vaccine creation could advance quickly; but I can’t think of any respected political scientist or sociologist who would have predicted the massive movement that has emerged against vaccination and the politicization of the spread of the virus.
Social behavior and the covid pandemic – Understanding Society
I can’t think of many social scientists working in vaccination who haven’t been thinking about this for at least a decade.
In the discussion about the twelve NSW local government “areas of concern” that are under tighter restrictions, I’ve noticed that the number of people affected is never mentioned. So I looked it up and there are more than 2.3 million people living in the twelve LGAs (table below).
About 1 in 10 people in Australia live in a NSW Local Government Areas of Concern, which means they’re under curfew and need permits to leave their LGAs