COVID-19 is caused by a virus known as SARS-CoV-2. The virus emerged in late 2019, joining the SARS and MERS viruses and four ‘common cold’ coronaviruses as the seventh known human coronavirus. Following its detection in December 2019, SARS-CoV-2 rapidly spread around the globe and continues to threaten public health today.

The World Health Organisation has produced a timeline of key international events from the first year and a half of the pandemic and a New Zealand thinktank continues to update a timeline of key COVID-19 events in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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Last updated: 9 February 2022

COVID-19 vaccines

With the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out across Aotearoa New Zealand, we have curated a list of annotated links to trusted information about COVID-19 vaccines.

Science in emergencies: COVID-19 documentaries

By independent filmmaker Shirley Horrocks

Information summaries

Prepared under urgency

Please note that many of these documents reflect current information at a particular point in time, during a rapidly evolving situation.


Israel: Vaccine roll-out and border restrictions – 2 June 2021

A short document detailing the vaccination situation and border restrictions in Israel.
Download ‘Israel: Vaccine roll-out and border restrictions’ (PDF, 284KB)


Can SARS-CoV-2 survive in refrigerated environments – and for how long? – 20 October 2020

A short document on the highly uncertain evidence base for the possibility of SASR-CoV-2 transmission via the cold supply chain. This has been updated with new information on 20 October 2020.
Download ‘Can SARS-CoV-2 survive in refrigerated environments – and for how long?’ (PDF, 208KB)


Rapid review: The role of genomics – 21 September 2020

A commissioned rapid review on the role of COVID-19 genomics in contact tracing, cluster analysis and viral evolution. Produced under urgency by lead author Professor Michael Bunce, Chief Scientist at the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) – Te Mana Rauhī Taiao.
Download the report ‘The role of COVID-19 genomics’ (PDF, 5MB)


COVID-19 vaccines – 7 September 2020

A summary of COVID-19 vaccine development efforts including the different approaches, potential challenges, and the current frontrunners.
Download the ‘COVID-19 vaccines’ report (updated 7 September 2020) (PDF, 1MB)
Download the ‘COVID-19 vaccines’ report (updated 16 July 2020) (PDF, 941KB)
Download the ‘COVID-19 vaccines’ report (21 May 2020 version) (PDF, 793KB)


Masks prevent the spread of COVID-19 – 13 August 2020

A short document on the evidence base for mask wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 plus explanation of the different types of masks.
Download ‘Masks prevent the spread of COVID-19’ (PDF, 202KB)


COVID-19 and vitamin D – 2 June 2020

Produced by Cherie Tollemache, one of our MacDiarmid interns, this report summarises the evidence for a link between vitamin D status and COVID-19 severity.
Download the ‘COVID-19 and vitamin D’ report (PDF, 867KB)


COVID-19 and seasonality – 18 May 2020

Produced by Stephen Lo, one of our MacDiarmid interns, this report examines the role of climate and weather in the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Download the ‘COVID-19 and seasonality’ report (PDF, 375KB)


Is SARS-CoV-2 airborne? – 14 May 2020

This short summary describes research investigating whether an airborne transmission route is possible for SARS-CoV-2 and what role this might play in the progression of the pandemic.
Download the report ‘Is SARS-CoV-2 airborne?’ (PDF, 191KB)


Serology testing for COVID-19 antibodies – 29 April 2020

Focusing specifically on antibody testing, this review builds on the paper below led by Professor Michael Bunce, Chief Scientist at the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) – Te Mana Rauhī Taiao.
Download the report ‘Serology testing for the presence of antibodies against COVID-19’ (PDF, 496KB)


Testing for COVID-19 – 30 March 2020

A commissioned review on COVID-19 testing methods, produced under urgency by lead author Professor Michael Bunce, Chief Scientist at the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) – Te Mana Rauhī Taiao.
Download the report ‘Testing for COVID-19’ (PDF, 880KB)
Download the appendices for the report (PDF, 2.41MB)


Below are links to advisory information provided to the Prime Minister during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

October 2021: The PM requested that Juliet and Ian Town convene an expert group to provide feedback on an earlier iteration of the traffic light system for COVID-19 protection once vaccination targets are reached. The final system is significantly strengthened compared to the consultation draft which was shared with the group. You can read the feedback provided under urgency here (PDF, 309KB)

Download the July – September 2021 advice bundle (PDF, 3MB)

Download the December 2020 – June 2021 advice bundle (PDF, 410KB)

Download the September/October/November 2020 advice bundle (PDF, 2MB)

Download the June/July/August advice bundle (PDF, 4MB)

Download the May advice bundle (PDF, 693KB)

Download the April advice bundle (PDF, 6MB)

Download the March advice bundle (PDF, 611KB)


COVID-19 as a case study in our polluted information landscape

Juliet joined Professor Julia M Wright to discuss the information landscape in Aotearoa during COVID-19.  She reflected on the role of science communication during different phases of the pandemic, and how tools discussed in a recent report from the OPMCSA, He Uru...

An illustrative model of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle

The five burning questions facing NZ

When will we have a vaccine? And are our borders sufficiently secure now? Science reporter Jamie Morton spoke to Juliet and other scientists to answer five burning coronavirus questions facing NZ.

A COVID tracer QR code print out in a cafe

When can we re-open our borders?

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages offshore, how does Aotearoa New Zealand decide to reopen our borders and what constitutes an acceptable level of risk?

Man wearing a mask walks across the street in inner city Auckland

Banner images: NIAID/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)