We don’t yet know how effective COVID vaccines are for people with immune deficiencies. But we know they’re safe — and worthwhile


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Vanessa Bryant, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Charlotte Slade, Walter and Eliza Hall InstituteThe COVID vaccine rollout is underway in Australia, with people in phase 1b now eligible to be vaccinated.

So far, we have two vaccines available in Australia: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, approved for people aged 16 and older, and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, approved for those over 18. Evidence has shown both vaccines are safe and offer near-complete protection against severe COVID-19, hospitalisation and, most importantly, COVID-related death.

Both vaccines are also safe and effective at generating immune responses in the elderly. But what about another vulnerable group — people with immunodeficiencies? Many people with immunodeficiencies are included in group 1b and will now be thinking about getting their vaccine.

Although we’re still gathering data to determine whether COVID vaccines will work as well in people with immunodeficiencies as they do in the general population, they’re likely to offer at least a reasonable degree of protection. And importantly, we know they’re safe.

What are immunodeficiencies?

Immunodeficiencies are conditions that weaken the body’s ability to fight infection. People’s immune system may be compromised for many reasons, and this can be transient or lifelong.

Primary immunodeficiencies occur when some or all of a person’s immune system is missing, defective or ineffective. These are rare and often genetic diseases that may be diagnosed early in life, but can occur at any age.

Examples of primary immunodeficiencies include severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) and common variable immunodeficiency (CVID).




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Secondary immunodeficiencies are acquired, and more common. They may occur as a result of other diseases (for example, via HIV infection), treatments and medications (such as chemotherapy or corticosteroids), or environmental exposure to toxins (for example, prolonged exposure to heavy metals or pesticides).

Sometimes the immune system in people with immunodeficiencies can react in exaggerated ways too, and cause autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis or gut inflammation). So it sometimes makes more sense to describe the immune system as “dysregulated”, rather than “deficient”.

An illustration of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
People with immunodeficiencies are more susceptible to being infected with viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2.
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Immunodeficiencies, COVID-19 and vaccines

People with secondary immunodeficiencies are generally at higher risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 and of developing severe disease. Surprisingly, although people with primary immunodeficiency may be at greater risk of getting infections, including COVID, most are no more susceptible to developing severe COVID compared with the overall population.

This may be because the most severe COVID-19 symptoms are usually not due to gaps in immunity, but to an overactive immune response to SARS-CoV-2.

In fact, immune-suppressing steroids may be an effective treatment for severe COVID. Clinical trials looking into this are underway.

However, as vaccines work by mobilising our immune systems, for people who have a weaker immune system to begin with, vaccines may not be as effective. They may generate an incomplete or short-lived response, so people with immunodeficiencies may need additional boosters to maintain protective immunity.




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Efficacy and safety

It’s difficult to assess COVID vaccine efficacy in people with immunodeficiencies, because people with primary immunodeficiencies or cancer weren’t included in clinical trials.

A very small number of people with HIV have been included in trials of a few of the vaccines, but limited data is publicly available. So it’s too early to draw any firm conclusions on whether the vaccines will be as effective in people with HIV as for the general population.

We also don’t yet know how long immunity to COVID-19 or COVID vaccines lasts. This will be particularly important for immunodeficient people. Research is underway to determine whether they’ll need booster jabs more frequently to maintain immunity.

A woman wearing a head scarf looks out the window.
Clinical trials of COVID vaccines haven’t generally included people with immunodeficiencies.
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We do know the vaccines are safe for this group.

Neither the AstraZeneca nor the Pfizer vaccines can cause an infection, so they won’t present a problem for people with immunodeficiencies (or for elderly people, who may also have weakened immune responses).

Usually, we avoid giving “live attenuated” vaccines (vaccines that contain weakened elements of the virus) to anyone with immunodeficiency. Because of their weakened immune systems and increased susceptibility to infection, there’s a chance they could develop a full-blown infection. An example of this is the chickenpox vaccine. But no live attenuated COVID vaccines have been approved anywhere in the world.

Preliminary evidence from vaccine rollouts around the world has shown COVID vaccines are safe for immunocompromised people with cancer. Although, if you’re going through cancer treatment, you should discuss the timing of your vaccination with your specialist.

There have been no unusual safety concerns to indicate any increased risk for HIV-positive people receiving any of the COVID vaccines either.

Get the jab

Vaccination is most definitely recommended for people with immunodeficiencies, and they’re included in priority groups for vaccine rollout in Australia. Group 1b includes people with underlying medical conditions which may place them at higher risk from COVID-19, including “immunocompromising conditions”.

If you have a diagnosed immunodeficiency or autoimmune disease, you can talk to your doctor or specialist for specific advice on the timing of your COVID vaccination and your condition. There’s generally no reason to change your normal medications or therapies before receiving the vaccine.

Organisations including the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy and the Immune Deficiency Foundation of Australia have published resources which offer guidance for people with immunodeficiencies in relation to COVID vaccination.




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The Conversation


Vanessa Bryant, Laboratory Head, Immunology Division, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Charlotte Slade, Laboratory Head, Immunology Division, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Should I get a COVID vaccine while I’m pregnant or breastfeeding? Is it safe for me and my baby?



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Nina Jane Chad, University of Sydney and Karleen Gribble, Western Sydney University

From Monday, Australia’s front-line health workers, quarantine staff, border control officers, and workers and residents in aged-care homes will be offered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Some of these workers will be women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, and/or breastfeeding.

So they may be concerned about whether the vaccine is safe for themselves and their babies.

What issues do these women need to consider?

Remind me again, which vaccine?

Australia’s drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has approved two vaccines. Pfizer’s vaccine has been approved for people aged 16 years and older; the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 18 and older.

Although neither approval excludes women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the TGA recommends their use in pregnancy be based on an assessment of whether the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks.

The federal health department has issued a decision guide to help women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy assess whether the benefits of having the Pfizer vaccine outweigh the risks.




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Should I get vaccinated if I’m breastfeeding?

Major health authorities worldwide agree it’s safe to breastfeed after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The Australian health department says it has no concerns about the safety of the Pfizer vaccine for breastfeeding women or their babies.

Although no studies have specifically investigated whether COVID-19 vaccines get into breastmilk, the baby’s stomach acid would destroy them if they did.

Antibodies against the virus have been detected in the milk of mothers who have been infected with COVID-19. So, if the antibodies the vaccine triggers also pass into breastmilk, getting vaccinated while you’re breastfeeding may even help to protect your baby against COVID-19. Antibodies in breastmilk are widely known to help protect infants against a wide range of infections.

Woman breastfeeding newborn baby
Even if the vaccine passed into your breastmilk, it would be destroyed by the acid in your baby’s stomach.
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How about if I’m pregnant?

The Australian health department is encouraging women who are pregnant and at high risk of catching COVID-19, or who have medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 disease, to consider getting vaccinated.

The World Health Organization is even clearer in recommending women who are pregnant to be vaccinated if they are at high risk of catching COVID-19 or of developing severe COVID-19 disease.




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While it might seem safer to wait until you’re no longer pregnant to be vaccinated, that may be riskier. Pregnant women are more likely to get severe COVID-19 than other infected women, and are slightly more likely to give birth prematurely if they have COVID-19.

So vaccination is important, especially if you are a front-line health, aged-care, or quarantine worker.




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Are the vaccines safe for pregnant women and their babies?

Almost all vaccines are safe during pregnancy and some are recommended to protect women and their babies from infectious disease. Even those that are not generally recommended can be given to pregnant women in certain circumstances, for instance when it would be safer to have the vaccine than to be exposed to infectious disease without the protection vaccination provides.

COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause coronavirus infection because they do not contain the virus that causes it.

The active ingredient in the Pfizer vaccine is mRNA, a tiny fragment of genetic material (messenger ribonucleic acid) that triggers our own cells to produce a spike protein similar to the one on the surface of the coronavirus. This triggers an immune response that destroys the spike protein and teaches our bodies to recognise the virus that causes COVID-19. mRNA is very fragile, so it is destroyed in our bodies very quickly.

While we are still gathering more information about the use of COVID vaccines in women who are pregnant, there are some encouraging signs. About 20,000 pregnant women in the United States alone have been vaccinated and there have been “no red flags” around safety.




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What about women in other jobs?

Women who are not working in front-line health, aged care, border protection or hotel quarantine will not be offered COVID-19 vaccination for some time yet.

Fortunately, in Australia it is very unlikely for someone who is not a front-line worker to be exposed to COVID-19 because there are so few cases in the community.

By the time vaccination is offered to healthy women who are not in high-risk occupations, many hundreds of thousands of pregnant women will have been vaccinated worldwide, giving us more information on which to base our recommendations.

So, why the controversy?

Researchers did not include women who were pregnant or breastfeeding in COVID-19 vaccine research. So when the first vaccines were offered to health workers in the United Kingdom, for instance, health authorities did not recommend vaccinating women who were pregnant or breastfeeding.

While this may have been motivated by a desire to protect them, it had the opposite effect. UK women in jobs that placed them at high risk of contracting COVID-19, were left without the protection offered by vaccination. Some women stopped breastfeeding. Others felt it meant choosing between working while unvaccinated and not working at all. Recommendations in the UK have since changed, and pregnant or breastfeeding women in high-risk occupations are now offered vaccination, just as they will be here.

In Australia, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) says that, although there is no evidence COVID-19 vaccines could cause harm when given to women in pregnancy, there is insufficient evidence to recommend Australian pregnant woman routinely get vaccinated. This recommendation may change if the number of COVID-19 cases increases in Australia.

However, RANZCOG does recommend that women with particular underlying medical conditions discuss the pros and cons with their health-care provider. It also suggests pregnant women working in high-risk environments be offered alternative duties that reduce their chance of exposure to the virus.




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So what do we make of all this?

From what we know so far, breastfeeding women can be vaccinated without risk to their babies. And the World Health Organization says vaccination is safer for pregnant women who work in places where they are at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 than not getting vaccinated.

Women who are not working in high-risk occupations, whose risk of exposure is low because community transmission is low, will not be offered vaccination for some time. By the time it’s their turn, health authorities should be able to make clearer recommendations.The Conversation

Nina Jane Chad, Infant Feeding Consultant, World Health Organization; Research Fellow, University of Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney and Karleen Gribble, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Why we’ll get COVID booster vaccines quickly and how we know they’re safe


Jamie Triccas, University of Sydney and Anthony (Tony) Cunningham, University of Sydney

The United States’ drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said last week COVID vaccines updated for variants won’t need to go through full randomised controlled clinical trials.

The booster shots will only be required to undergo initial testing to check they are safe and produce an immune response. They won’t need to go through lengthy “phase 3” efficacy trials which would normally enrol tens of thousands of participants.

The European Medicines Agency hasn’t published formal guidelines, but has taken the same position. Chair of the agency’s vaccine evaluation team, Marco Cavaleri, told Reuters: “We will ask for much smaller trials, with a few hundred participants, rather than 30,000 to 40,000”. The focus would be primarily on safety and immune response data.

This is encouraging news, because it means we could get access to booster shots much more quickly than if they went through full trials. And because drug companies will have to prove they’re using the same technology and manufacturing process as the original vaccines, we can still be assured they’ll also be safe.

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has not yet confirmed whether it’ll do the same, but history tells us we can probably expect it to follow suit.

Why do we need boosters?

Variant strains of the virus have been detected around the world, including those originating in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. People infected with these variants have been found in Australian hotel quarantine, and the B.1.1.7 strain, first found in the UK, has escaped the quarantine system several times.




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For those tested, the current crop of vaccines still perform relatively well against the B.1.1.7 strain.

And data suggest most COVID vaccines will still be somewhat useful in preventing hospitalisation and death from these variants.

However, efficacy against mild to moderate illness, and against transmission of the virus, has likely dropped off sharply against some of these variants.

For example, preliminary data suggest vaccine efficacy for AstraZeneca’s vaccine dropped to just 10% against mild-moderate illness from the B.1.351 variant which originated in South Africa. Efficacy of Novavax’s shot slid from 89% to 60% against this variant. These data were from small trials and more studies are needed, but it’s still very concerning.

We don’t have solid real world data yet about the performance of the Pfizer vaccine against the B.1.351 variant.




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Why don’t we need full trials again?

Drug companies have flagged the need to develop updated booster shots to cover these new variants, which would involve tweaking their sequences.

Some scientists were worried this would mean drug companies would have to go through full randomised controlled clinical trials, including large phase 3 efficacy trials, to get these booster shots to market. These phase 3 clinical trials include many thousands of volunteers and the primary aim is to determine if the vaccine can prevent people from getting the disease.

By the time these trials were completed, it may be too late to control outbreaks caused by variants, and new variants may emerge that we’d need coverage for. In a pandemic, we don’t have the luxury of time.

But the FDA has dispelled this fear. The drug regulator seems most interested in ensuring any booster shots are safe and the manufacturing process hasn’t been modified from the original vaccines it approved.

The boosters will still require smaller trials to show they’re safe and generate an immune response. The trials typically involve a few hundred people and would examine the percentage of vaccinated volunteers who make antibodies to the variants, as well as the strength of the immune response.

This would be similar to what’s done for annual flu shots, although not exactly the same. We get very different flu strains circulating every few years, but current COVID-19 vaccines and variant “boosters” could be sufficient to use for several years — we don’t know yet.

The FDA also indicated boosters won’t necessarily need to undergo animal testing before progressing to human testing, which will also save time. But this may be encouraged if results from human trials are ambiguous.

How do we know they’ll be safe and effective?

Any potential side effects from a vaccine are mostly based on how the vaccine is made, the technology and how it’s delivered.

If drug companies keep all these factors the same, and only make minor sequence changes to cover variants, then we can expect the boosters to still be very safe vaccines.

The US and EU drug regulators would like to see data where the booster is given to people who’ve already had an original COVID vaccine, given this will be the likely scenario for most people receiving a booster shot by the time they’re approved.

The boosters will probably also be tested in people who haven’t had any COVID disease or vaccine. This is to ensure the boosters can induce strong immune responses like the original vaccine.

When required, the TGA will independently review all of this data. It will also likely seek advice from internal and external experts.




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It’s also unclear when booster shots will be available or if they will be necessary in the short term. Melbourne-based biotech company CSL, which is producing the AstraZeneca vaccine onshore, said this week booster shots to cover coronavirus variants probably won’t be available until the end of the year.

US pharmaceutical company Moderna has already sent a new COVID vaccine booster shot for phase 1 testing, to target the B.1.351 variant. Pfizer is also planning to develop a booster to cover this variant, either as a third dose or a reformulated vaccine.

New variants will continue to arise, but the best chance we have of stopping or slowing this process is by continuing public health measures to ensure as few people as possible become infected.

This includes vaccinating as many people as possible globally with the currently approved vaccines, which underscores Australia’s responsibility to assist countries in our region in getting vaccinated.




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The Conversation


Jamie Triccas, Professor of Medical Microbiology, University of Sydney and Anthony (Tony) Cunningham, Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Health, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

COVID vaccines have been developed in record time. But how will we know they’re safe?



from www.shutterstock.com

Nicholas Wood, University of Sydney and Kristine Macartney, University of Sydney

With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines about to begin in Australia, people may be wondering if they’re safe (and effective) in the long term. What might be the health consequences a year after vaccination, or further into the future?

While it’s true COVID-19 vaccines have been developed in record time, the importance of tracking vaccine safety is not new. We routinely monitor the safety of all vaccinations, years after they’ve been used in millions of people.

And in guidance from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) this week, we have a clearer picture of how we’ll know about any unexpected, rare or long-term side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. In fact, we’ll use and build on many existing systems to look out for these.




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Vaccine trials only tell us so much

Late-stage vaccine trials in tens of thousands of people only last for a defined period of time, typically 12 months. Vaccine manufacturers present data on vaccine safety (and efficacy) for that time-frame to regulatory bodies. Safety data is rigorously assessed before a vaccine is approved for use.

But when approved vaccines are then given to the general public, we can monitor for any new events that may occur unexpectedly in both the short and longer term. Tracking potential side-effects in the real world in all people who have a vaccine, and outside the tightly controlled conditions of a trial, means we can ensure the vaccine is safe when given to millions — or billions — of people.




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So how might this work for COVID-19 vaccines? The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine phase 3 trial reported safety data until about 14 weeks after the second dose. The Oxford/AstraZeneca trial reported safety data after about three months after the first dose, and two months after the second dose.

However, participants in both these large trials will continue to be followed up for both efficacy and safety until the end of the study from around 12 months after the first dose of vaccine.

COVID vaccine safety is also being monitored in several other ways, by individual countries, including Australia. Countries also share their vaccine safety monitoring data via a global database.




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Here’s how we’ll monitor COVID vaccine safety in Australia

The TGA has overall responsibility for monitoring the safety of medicines and vaccines in Australia. Just this week, the TGA released its plans for monitoring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

This includes the timely collection and management of reports of COVID-19 vaccine adverse events, an ability to urgently detect any safety concerns and to communicate safety issues to the public.

‘Passive’ surveillance

A cornerstone of the system Australia has had in place for decades to capture any possible vaccine reactions is “passive” surveillance. In practice, this means anyone can report a reaction to the TGA, the public included.

If your GP or nurse thinks you may have had a reaction they should report this to their state or territory health department, which then informs the TGA. This is mandatory in some jurisdictions but not in others.

Woman holding smartphone about to make a call
Consumers are being encouraged to report any suspected side-effects after their COVID vaccine.
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The TGA is encouraging health professionals and consumers to report suspected side-effects to COVID-19 vaccines and there is a guide on its website on how to do this.

The TGA has a database that records any reported possible reactions. If there are any suspected safety issues, these are immediately investigated and necessary action is taken. For example, if necessary an immunisation program can be stopped or special precautions implemented. TGA can also issue safety alerts.

‘Active’ surveillance

Since 2014, Australia has also been actively looking for any safety concerns via the AusVaxSafety surveillance system, led by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, which we are affiliated with.

We send texts or emails to people asking them to fill out a survey on their health after being vaccinated. This system enables us to detect any suspected safety issues in near real time. Last year, AusVaxSafety surveyed nearly 290,000 people after they had the 2020 influenza vaccine and found more than 94% felt completely well. Others had mild and expected short-term side effects.

This system will be used to pick up any safety concerns when the COVID-19 vaccines roll out in the next few weeks. If you are vaccinated at selected sites, including GP practices and COVID-19 vaccine hubs, you will be told about this automated system. You don’t have to register or enrol but will be sent an SMS on day 3 and day 8 after each vaccine dose (you can decide whether to fill out the survey). Your anonymised results will be reported to your state or territory health department and the TGA.

This system will probably be in place to monitor safety of the COVID-19 vaccines for a few years. And as new vaccine brands come on board, we will continue to monitor those too.




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We can also learn from other countries

The United States has recently developed an equivalent system, V-safe. Safety data from this system from about two million people who have had a COVID-19 vaccine indicates the vaccines are safe. The short-term side-effects are very similar to those reported in the vaccine trials. The most common reactions include injection site pain, headache, tiredness and muscle aches, usually in the first two days and then resolving within a week after vaccination.

And worldwide, more than 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have already been given, with no unexpected safety concerns.




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In a nutshell

The potential benefits to us all from a mass vaccination program against COVID-19 far outweigh the potential side-effects, based on data from millions of people who have already been vaccinated around the world. Yet, we know all medicines, vaccines included, have the potential for side-effects.

However, by using, and building on, our already established safety surveillance system, we will be “on top” of rapidly identifying any possible safety concerns. That’s immediately after vaccination and into the longer term.The Conversation

Nicholas Wood, Associate Professor, Discipline of Childhood and Adolescent Health, University of Sydney and Kristine Macartney, Professor, Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

TikTok can be good for your kids if you follow a few tips to stay safe


Tashatuvango/Shutterstock

Joanne Orlando, Western Sydney University

The video-sharing app TikTok is a hot political potato amid concerns over who has access to users’ personal data.

The United States has moved to ban the app. Other countries, including Australia, have expressed concern.

But does this mean your children who use this app are at risk? If you’re a parent, let me explain the issues and give you a few tips to make sure your kids stay safe.

A record-breaker

Never has an app for young people been so popular. By April this year the TikTok app had been downloaded more than 2 billion times worldwide.

The app recently broke all records for the most downloaded app in a quarterly period, with 315 million downloads globally in the first three months of 2020.

Its popularity with young Aussies has sky-rocketed. Around 1.6 million Australians use the app, including about one in five people born since 2006. That’s an estimated 537,000 young Australians.

Like all social media apps, TikTok siphons data about its users such as email address, contacts, IP address and geolocation information.

TikTok was fined $US5.8 million (A$8 million) to settle US government claims it illegally collected personal information from children.

As a Chinese company, ByteDance, owns TikTok, US President Donald Trump and others are also worried about the app handing over this data to the Chinese state. TikTok denies it does this.




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Just days ago the Trump administration signed an executive order to seek a ban on TikTok operating or interacting with US companies.

Youngsters still TikToking

There is no hint of this stopping our TikToking children. For them it’s business as usual, creating and uploading videos of themselves lip-syncing, singing, dancing or just talking.

The most recent trend on TikTok – Taylor Swift Love Story dance – has resulted in more than 1.5 million video uploads in around two weeks alone.

But the latest political issues with TikTok raise questions about whether children should be on this platform right now. More broadly, as we see copycat sites such as Instagram Reels launched, should children be using any social media platforms that focus on them sharing videos of themselves at all?

The pros and cons

The TikTok app has filled a genuine social need for this young age group. Social media sites can offer a sense of belonging to a group, such as a group focused on a particular interest, experience, social group or religion.

TikTok celebrates diversity and inclusivity. It can provide a place where young people can join together to support each other in their needs.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, TikTok has had huge numbers of videos with coronavirus-related hashtags such as #quarantine (65 billion views), #happyathome (19.5 billion views) and #safehands (5.4 billion views).

Some of these videos are funny, some include song and dance. The World Health Organisation even posted its own youth-oriented videos on TikTok to provide young people with reliable public health advice about COVID-19.

The key benefit is the platform became a place where young people joined together from all corners of the planet, to understand and take the stressful edge off the pandemic for themselves and others their age. Where else could they do that? The mental health benefits this offers can be important.

Let’s get creative

Another benefit lies in the creativity TikTok centres on. Passive use of technology, such as scrolling and checking social media with no purpose, can lead to addictive types of screen behaviours for young people.

Whereas planning and creating content, such as making their own videos, is meaningful use of technology and curbs addictive technology behaviours. In other words, if young people are going to use technology, using it creatively, purposefully and with meaning is the type of use we want to encourage.

Users of TikTok must be at least 13 years old, although it does have a limited app for under 13s.

Know the risks

Like all social media platforms, children are engaging in a space in which others can contact them. They may be engaging in adult concepts that they are not yet mature enough for, such as love gone wrong or suggestively twerking to songs.




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The platform moves very quickly, with a huge amount of videos, likes and comments uploaded every day. Taking it all in can lead to cognitive overload. This can be distracting for children and decrease focus on other aspects of their life including schoolwork.

Three young girls video themselves on a smartphone.
How to stay safe and still have fun with TikTok.
Luiza Kamalova/Shutterstock

So here are a few tips for keeping your child safe, as well as getting the most out of the creative/educational aspects of TikTok.

  1. as with any social network, use privacy settings to limit how much information your child is sharing

  2. if your child is creating a video, make sure it is reviewed before it’s uploaded to ensure it doesn’t include content that can be misconstrued or have negative implications

  3. if a child younger than 13 wants to use the app, there’s a section for this younger age group that includes extra safety and privacy features

  4. if you’re okay with your child creating videos for TikTok, then doing it together or helping them plan and film the video can be a great parent-child bonding activity

  5. be aware of the collection of data by TikTok, encourage your child to be aware of it, and help them know what they are giving away and the implications for them.

Happy (safe) TikToking!The Conversation

Joanne Orlando, Researcher: Children and Technology, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Dine in or walk away? How to tell if a venue is COVID safe in NSW



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Lisa Bricknell, CQUniversity Australia

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for more businesses to register as COVID Safe, as the state recorded 19 new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to 8pm Tuesday night. Berejiklian said:

If I walk into a venue and I’m not comfortable with how COVID safe that venue is, I’d leave. I expect patrons to do the same.

Good advice — and timely, too. As NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty said on Wednesday, NSW is “at a knife’s edge, a critical point”.

Here’s what to look for when you walk into a bar, cafe or restaurant to know if it’s COVID safe — and how to know when to walk out the door.




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What to look for

Familiarise yourself with the rules business must follow to register as a COVID Safe business in NSW. The rules are here.

Screenshot of the steps to become a COVID Safe business.
Steps to become a COVID Safe business, according to NSW Health.
NSW Health

Check to see the venue’s COVID Safe certificate is clearly displayed and that they are taking every patron’s contact details. If a patron is dining in, the venue must be recording their contact details or checking they are registered with the COVIDSafe app.

If they’re not recording people’s details in some way, leave. If a COVID-19 positive case visits that venue, contact tracers are unable to do their job unless all patrons’ details are recorded.

Check if tables are appropriately spaced and that cutlery, napkins, glasses, plates, bowls or straws aren’t left lying on tables — even if they are disposable. Nothing should be on the table for people to pick up (or in a tub for patrons to collect themselves). Cutlery and other utensils should be brought out by staff when your order is ready. The idea is to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 positive person handling your utensils.

Your table should be 1.5m away from other tables but I’d even be trying to keep 1.5m from friends at my own table. Personally, I’d also want to see my friends wearing masks (it’s different if you’re dining with people with whom you live). Even if you or your friend had a COVID-19 test yesterday and it came back negative, that doesn’t mean you’re negative today. You could have been infected in the past 12 hours.




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Watch what happens when a patron leaves. Are staff appropriately sanitising tables and chairs with spray and, ideally, disposable paper towel? They should be.

Look around to see if the venue provides hand sanitiser for patrons — and keep an eye on the staff to make sure they are using it too.

Staff, ideally, should be wearing masks, in my view. I know that’s not yet compulsory in many places, but masks provide a barrier if a staff member is unknowingly positive. It’s hard to make patrons wear masks, because they have to eat, but I’d be looking for the staff to be wearing them (all staff, not just a couple).

Check if the venue is enforcing contactless transactions to reduce the handling of money, cards and pin pads. I know the evidence about the role of surfaces in spreading this coronavirus is still emerging but we should stick to universal precautions — if something can be avoided, it should be.

Staff should be limiting the number of patrons at the venue, and the number of patrons allowed in the venue at any one time should be clearly displayed. If people are lining up outside, make sure they are being spaced out too.

In general, aim for an open-air setting if you can, such as a beer garden or an open-air cafe. The more fresh air flow you have around you, the more transmission risk is reduced. Any sort of indoor socialising, where air flow is limited, is inherently risky at the moment in NSW.

People sitting in a restaurant with coronavirus restrictions
Eating out? Check to see if staff are sanitising surfaces, wearing masks, using contactless payment, and spacing out customers.
Shutterstock

When to leave

Breaches of any of the above would be enough to make me want to leave. But here are some more triggers that would make me think, “I’m getting out of here.”

If you see staff or patrons with symptoms — they have a cough, or cold, or seem unwell — leave.

If they are not wiping surfaces or tables, or allowing patrons to come in and seat themselves, leave. Patrons should be shown to tables that have been sanitised.

If the place is starting to fill up and you sense physical distancing is not being observed — leave.

A critical point

NSW is at an especially critical point. I’d be very, very careful right now. If I was in a Sydney hotspot, I wouldn’t be going out to dinner at all.

NSW is doing a good job of putting out spot fires but any one of those spot fires can flare up if people aren’t taking precautions.

If you thinking of going out, and you are wondering if it is risky, then you are better off not doing it. If you feel you have to go, then mitigate your risk by moving the event outside or making sure everyone is distancing and wearing masks.

COVID-19 is a really serious disease that affects young and old. You can get sick or even die, even if you are young and healthy — and the evidence on long term effects is worrying. And of course, healthy people can pass it on to someone who is in a high risk category. It’s so important that everyone continues to observe the appropriate protocols — today. This week. This weekend.

Until COVID-19 either burns out globally or we get a vaccine — and neither of those are right on the horizon and may not happen at all — then this may become the new normal, sadly. Infection control measures remain our best chance of keeping the pandemic in check.The Conversation

Lisa Bricknell, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Health, CQUniversity Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

5 reasons it’s safe for kids to go back to school



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Asha Bowen, Telethon Kids Institute; Christopher Blyth, University of Western Australia, and Kirsty Short, The University of Queensland

In mid March, cases of COVID-19 – the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 – dramatically increased in Australia and the government responded with an effective public health strategy. People who could, shifted to working from home, social distancing measures were applied and Australians experienced life in isolation.

Somewhere in the mix, kids stopped attending school. While the federal government has consistently maintained it is safe for schools to remain open, other states like Victoria and NSW told parents to keep their children at home if they could.

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We are now in a different phase of the pandemic in Australia. With cases dropping, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced students would be making a staggered approach back to classrooms from the third week of the second term – initially for one day a week, then for more time on campus as the term progresses. Schools in Western Australia reopen on Wednesday April, 29.

On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the same social distancing rules as in the community did not apply in the classroom. He said:

The 1.5m in classrooms and the four square metre rule is not a requirement of the expert medical advice for students in classrooms.

Closure of schools has meant kids not seeing their friends and a disruption to their usual education routine.

For some children fears of violence, hunger and lack of safety, that are usually modified through school attendance, have become more real. Inequality and mental health needs have likely become more apparent for some children.




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The federal and state governments who say it is safe for children to return to school are working off the latest evidence. Here are five reasons we know it’s safe.

1. Kids get infected with coronavirus at much lower rates than adults

This is the case in Australia and throughout the world. There are no clear explanations for this yet, but it is a consistent finding across the pandemic.

Although SARS-CoV-2 can cause COVID-19 in school-aged children, it rarely does and children with the disease have mild symptoms.

Fewer than 150 children below 15 years have been infected with SARS-COV-2 in Australia since the pandemic began. This is compared to the 6,695 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia at 25 April, 2020.

2. Children rarely get severely ill from COVID-19

Data from around the world and Australia have confirmed children very rarely require hospitalisation, and generally only experience mild symptoms, when infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Deaths in children due to COVID-19 are incredibly rare. Very few children globally have been confirmed to have died from the virus (around 20 by our calculations), in comparison to more than 200,000 overall deaths.

Many parents have worried their kids’ friends could be infected with the virus without showing symptoms. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. A study in Iceland showed children without symptoms were not detected to have COVID-19. No child below ten years of age without symptoms was found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 in this study.

3. Children don’t spread COVID-19 disease like adults

During the yearly flu season, children spread the flu to friends and grandparents alike. But COVID-19 behaves differently. In household clusters in China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Iran, fewer than 10% of children were the primary spreader – meaning the virus goes from adult to adult much more effectively than from children to other children, or even children to adults. The same has been found in new studies in The Netherlands.

We still don’t know why this is. It takes us all by surprise as kids with snotty noses are always blamed (and probably responsible) for driving the annual round of winter coughs and colds.

4. School children in Australia with COVID-19 haven’t spread it to others

Schools where cases have been diagnosed in Australia have not seen any evidence of secondary spread.

This means even with kids sitting right next to each other in the classroom, they are very unlikely to infect their friends.

5. There is no evidence closing schools will control transmission

Modelling shows only a small incremental public health benefit to closing schools in the case of usual respiratory viruses such as influenza. But COVID-19 is quite different to flu, so any of the benefits seen for influenza are likely to be even less in the case of COVID-19.

During the 2003 SARS outbreak, school transmission was not found to be a significant contributor to the outbreak and school closures did not influence the control of transmission.

Back to school doesn’t mean back to normal

Schools reopening does not mean a return to education as it was before. Other measures may also be put in place, like staggering lunch breaks, limiting face to face contact between staff and parents and regular hand-washing breaks.

Kids with a cold or other symptoms must stay home from school. And older teachers or those with underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk of complications if infected with SARS-CoV-2 will have altered responsibilities.

It is important parents and the public differentiate between schools reopening from all the other important strategies used to reduce transmission still in place. These include social distancing, travel restrictions, case isolation and quarantine, and banning of large gatherings.




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Other countries are shutting schools – why does the Australian government say it’s safe to keep them open?


But returning to schools is safe. Our leaders are advised on this issue by some of the best infectious diseases, public health and microbiology physicians in Australia, who have repeatedly said that schools can safely remain open.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has provided sensible advice for schools to reopen. It makes sense to get our kids back to doing what they do best.


Correction: the article originally stated children in NSW would start returning to schools in term one.The Conversation

Asha Bowen, Head, Skin Health, Telethon Kids Institute; Christopher Blyth, Paediatrician, Infectious Diseases Physician and Clinical Microbiologist, University of Western Australia, and Kirsty Short, Senior Lecturer, The University of Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Is cruising still safe? Will I be insured? What you need to know about travelling during the coronavirus crisis



DANIEL DAL ZENNARO/EPA

David Beirman, University of Technology Sydney

The coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) has now reached more than 80,000 recorded cases, largely concentrated in China, with a death toll over 2,700 and rising.

There are few signs the epidemic is abating. In fact, new cases have emerged in a host of European countries in recent days, while significant outbreaks have continued to grow in number in South Korea, Italy and Iran.

For the global tourism industry, the impact of the outbreak is likely to be severe. Many countries, including Australia and the US, are continuing their bans or severe restrictions on arrivals from China, which is having massive repercussions.

China accounts for one in 10 of the world’s international tourists, or about 150 million people per year. And Chinese tourists spent US$277 billion in outbound tourism in 2018, the highest in the world and nearly double the amount spent by American tourists at number two.




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Many governments, including Australia and the US, have also had “do not travel” warnings in effect for China for weeks – the highest warning level possible.

Australia is also now advising travellers to take a high degree of caution when visiting other countries with outbreaks, including South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong, and is advising people to reconsider travel to Iran. The warnings are updated frequently, so it’s best to check the Smart Traveller website before making plans.

The last significant disruption to global tourism on this scale occurred after the September 11 terror attacks, when a widespread fear of flying led to a major four-to-five-month decline in global aviation travel.

But despite the fears over coronavirus, travel is still generally safe at the moment provided you get the right advice and take sensible precautions.

A passenger gets her temperature taken after disembarking the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
FRANCK ROBICHON/EPA

Is cruising still safe, and if so, where?

The recent quarantining of the Diamond Princess (Japan), the World Dream (Hong Kong) and the Westerdam (Cambodia) has raised concerns about the safety of cruising during the epidemic.

While the crisis is unprecedented in scale for the cruise sector, ship operators have extensive experience in dealing with the challenge of containing disease outbreaks. In fact, along with aviation, the cruising industry has the strictest health and safety controls of any tourism industry sector.




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The International Maritime Organisation has had a convention in place since 1914 known as SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea), and updated versions now include a range of protocols for the cleaning of cabins and public areas of a ship and food hygiene.

It is standard practice in cruising to isolate passengers when a passenger is identified with an on-board illness. The difficulty with COVID-19 is that it may take up to 14 days and in some cases even longer for symptoms to develop after exposure.

According to my contacts in Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s global association representing over 90% of cruise ship operators, members are now developing a common approach to respond to the outbreak.

This involves informing passengers and training travel agencies about the measures that companies are taking to minimise risk and exposure to the virus. One measure being examined, for instance, is enhanced passenger reporting of medical vulnerabilities at the time of booking. This a top priority for CLIA.




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We depend so much more on Chinese travellers now. That makes the impact of this coronavirus novel


But the good news is that apart from the three quarantined ships in Asia, no evidence of COVID-19 has been found on cruise liners thus far.

The global cruise industry also has a relatively small exposure to China, which should counter some concerns about the safety of cruising. According to CLIA, all of Asia accounted for just 10% of the world’s cruise deployments and about 15% of the world’s 30 million passengers in 2019.

About half of the world’s cruising passengers are from North America (mainly the US). Nearly a third of global cruising takes place in the Caribbean and 28% in the Mediterranean and the rest of Europe. (However, the new coronavirus outbreak in Italy is becoming a more serious concern for cruise operators there.)

Will you be covered for cancellations?

Many travellers are also concerned about the travel insurance implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to CHOICE, the Australian consumer advocacy agency, less than half the travel insurers cover cancellation as a result of a pandemic or epidemic.

However, travellers who booked their trips prior to the announcement of the epidemic (what is called a “known event”) should be able to obtain cancellation coverage.

Allianz, for instance, says the virus became a known event on January 22 for travel to China. Cover More Travel Insurance, which issues over 80% of travel insurance policies in Australia, is using the date of January 23 for its policies.

However, travellers who booked and paid after the “known event” announcement may find themselves out of luck.

A man in Casalpusterlengo, one the Italian towns under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Andrea Fasani/EPA

Insurers also have different exclusions when it comes to epidemics. For instance, most (but not all) insurers will deny any coverage to travellers who visit a country their national government advises citizens not to visit, such as China at the moment for Australians.

However, some policies (especially those for corporate and government travellers) will offer coverage at a premium price for any loss not related to COVID-19 or standard travel insurance exclusions, such as injuries incurred while intoxicated.

Bottom line, travellers should research their travel insurance cover very carefully or seek professional advice to understand the full implications of the virus on their plans.The Conversation

David Beirman, Senior Lecturer, Tourism, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How big alcohol is trying to fool us into thinking drinking is safer than it really is



Australia’s drinking guidelines are currently under review.
From shutterstock.com

Peter Miller, Deakin University

Over recent weeks, the alcohol industry has been drumming up media discussion around Australia’s new drinking guidelines.

Australia’s guidelines on alcohol consumption are under ongoing review by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), with new draft guidelines expected to be released in November.

The alcohol industry has labelled the current guidelines (two standard drinks per day and four in any heavy episode of drinking) as harsh, and voiced concern the guidelines may be tightened further.




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The global alcohol industry has been increasingly proactive in trying to undermine the ever-improving science on the harms associated with the product they make money from manufacturing, promoting and selling.

This is somewhat unsurprising given the industry would be significantly less profitable if we all drank responsibly.

Drinking guidelines

Panels of scientists develop drinking guidelines around the world by assessing the best and most up-to-date evidence on alcohol and health, and determining consumption levels which might put people at risk.

They then provide the information to health professionals and the public to allow people to make informed decisions about consumption. The guidelines are neither imposed nor legislated.

The current 2009 Australian guidelines recommend healthy adults should drink no more than two standard drinks per day to reduce their lifetime risk of alcohol-related disease or injury. They recommend no more than four standard drinks on one occasion to reduce a person’s risk of injury and death.

So how are the industry players trying to protect our drinking culture from such “harsh” guidelines?

Alcohol Beverages Australia: who they are and what they’re claiming

Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) is an industry body for global alcohol producers and retailers, including Asahi Brewers from Japan, Diageo Spirits from the UK, Pernod Ricard from France, Coca-Cola Amatil from the USA, and many others. Bringing together multiple industry groups to lobby government was a key strategy developed by the tobacco industry.

The NHMRC review of Australia’s drinking guidelines was open to public submissions on the health effects of alcohol consumption until January 2017. At this time, the ABA submitted a report claiming drinking alcohol carries health benefits including a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. They requested the review take this into account in drafting any new guidelines.

In their communications with the media this month, the ABA resurfaced their 2017 submission to the process. It seems they have not updated the information to reflect the latest evidence.




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The most up-to-date evidence has shown previous research was substantially flawed in terms of the relationship between alcohol consumption and heart disease, blood pressure, breast cancer and overall mortality.

We know consuming any type of alcohol increases the risk of developing cancer of the bowel, mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver and breast. The World Health Organisation has classified alcohol as a class 1 carcinogen, along with asbestos and tobacco, for decades.

Any health benefits the ABA demonstrated evidence for is outweighed by the risks.

The current drinking guidelines in Australia recommend no more than two standard drinks per day for healthy adults.
From shutterstock.com

Alongside claiming the benefits of drinking alcohol need to be considered, to make their case, the ABA have compared drinking guidelines across different countries. In doing so, they are seeking to highlight Australia’s guidelines are ‘stricter’ than those of most other countries.

In making sense of these figures, the difference in drink driving levels is worth considering. It takes the average male four standard drinks to reach 0.05 in two hours and around seven standard drinks to reach 0.08. This is a big difference for most of us.

Those countries with 0.08mg of alcohol per L of blood as the legal limit are willing to accept more than triple the risk of having a car accident than Australia’s 0.05.

We need to ask whether these are countries whose health and safety models we want to follow.




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This is not a new problem

The industry is using language like “harsh” and “strict” to ferment public opposition to any tightened guidelines.

This spin strategy is predictable. The alcohol industry has been fighting for many decades to preserve profits over public safety, disregarding consumers’ rights to know the contents of their products, and the harms associated.

They fought against the 0.05 drink driving limit in the 1950s, and have successfully stopped Australian governments telling us about the cancer risk associated with alcohol consumption. For example, while policymakers have proposed warning labels with information about cancer risk be placed on alcoholic drinks, this is yet to eventuate.

The ABA is currently resisting a push to explicitly warn consumers drinking is harmful to unborn babies by means of mandatory labelling on all alcohol containers, suggesting it’s “too much information”.

These examples show how the industry continues to actively muddy efforts to educate the public of the harms of alcohol consumption.




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Notably, we’ve seen all of this before, particularly in the tobacco industry, or “big tobacco”, which has previously employed strategies to minimise health concerns and delay effective legislation.

So it’s hard not to wonder if the ABA are worried about the bottom line of their corporate masters, and therefore trying to influence deliberations through a media campaign, similar to those previously used by the tobacco industry.The Conversation

Peter Miller, Professor of Violence Prevention and Addiction Studies, Deakin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

We can design better intersections that are safer for all users



File 20180601 69511 1r0hldw.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
When cars, trucks, bikes and pedestrians come together at an intersection, design makes the difference between collisions and safety.
pxhere

Paul Salmon, University of the Sunshine Coast and Gemma Read, University of the Sunshine Coast

This is the sixth article in our series, Moving the Masses, about managing the flow of crowds of individuals, be they drivers or pedestrians, shoppers or commuters, birds or ants.


A major issue for road safety is collisions at intersections between vehicles and vulnerable road users such as cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.

In such collisions, often the driver is momentarily unaware of either the vulnerable road user or of their planned path through the intersection. While many factors can cause this lack of “situation awareness”, the design of the intersection is critical. With numbers of vulnerable road users increasing, how intersections are designed requires urgent attention.

The status quo

If you look at the intersections in your local area, many appear to have been designed primarily with drivers and efficiency in mind. The designs show little consideration of the needs of vulnerable road users. Typically, we see high speed limits, no dedicated bicycle lanes through the intersection, no filtering lanes for motorcyclists, and short crossing times for pedestrians.

This can make it difficult for vulnerable road users to pass through safely. And critically, the lack of overt protection for these vulnerable users also reduces drivers’ expectation of encountering them. This can lead to something that we call a “looked-but-failed-to-see error”: drivers are not aware of vulnerable road users even though they may have looked at them (this phenomenon is explained here).

In response to these problems, we recently completed research using a series of on-road studies to understand:

  1. how different road users interact at intersections

  2. what they need to know to support safe interactions.

Our next step involved using a sociotechnical systems-based design process to create new intersection design concepts. A sociotechnical system is any system in which humans and technology interact for a purposeful reason. Our aim was to develop a series of new intersection designs that better support the “situation awareness requirements” of all users.

Understanding the diversity of users

The most important finding from our on-road studies was that different road users experience the same intersection situations differently. Critically, these differences can create conflicts.

For example, drivers tend to be concerned with what is ahead of them, and specifically the status of the traffic lights. In contrast, cyclists and motorcyclists are concerned with working out a safe path and then filtering safely through the traffic. Thus, drivers who are not expecting them are often not aware of them or of what they might do next.

A key implication of our findings was that intersections should be designed to cater for the diverse situation awareness needs of all road users. The environment should facilitate safe interactions by ensuring that all road users are aware of each other and understand each others’ likely behaviours.

Based on this, we set about designing a series of new intersections using a sociotechnical systems design approach. Among other things this approach aims to create systems that have adaptive capacity and can cope with a diverse set of end user needs.

To achieve this, it proposes several core values, including that:

  • humans should be treated as assets rather than unpredictable and error-prone
  • technology should be used as a tool to assist and not replace humans
  • design should consider the specific needs and preferences of different users.

Designs for better intersections

We used these values as part of a participatory process to create three intersection design concepts. The design brief was to replace one of the intersections from the on-road studies (see below).

Figure 1. Bird’s-eye view (above) and first-person view (below) of the intersection to be replaced with new design, Map data ©2012 Google.
Author provided

When we evaluated the designs with drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians, two of the designs performed best against key criteria: alignment with sociotechnical systems values, attainment of key intersection functions (such as to minimise collisions, maximise efficiency, maximise compliance, optimise flexibility), and user preferences.

The first design is known as the “turning team” design. It works on the premise that different road users could work effectively as a team when proceeding through the intersection. To do this the design aims to make drivers explicitly aware of other forms of road user (to connect the team) and provides each with a clear and dedicated path through the intersection.

Like all good teams whose members function based on different roles, the design aims to clear cyclists from the intersection before allowing motorised traffic to enter. Other features include a pedestrian crossing path wide enough to accommodate cyclists who are not comfortable with using the road, motorcyclist filtering lanes, and phasing of traffic lights based on road user type and direction of travel.


CC BY-ND

The second design is the “circular” concept. It explicitly separates motorised and non-motorised traffic. A circular pathway around the intersection is provided for pedestrians and cyclists to use. This pathway links with cycle lanes running down the centre of the road, separated by a kerb from the roadway.

On the roadway, this design provides a separate bus lane and a motorcycle zone at the front of the intersection to encourage motorcyclists to filter to the front. Finally, the design incorporates signs warning motorists to be on the lookout for cyclists and for motorcyclists filtering through the traffic from behind.


CC BY-ND

The way forward for intersection design?

The road transport systems of the future will be markedly different to those of today. Intersections will become intelligent, with the capacity to “talk” with vehicles, and driverless vehicles will negotiate intersections for us.

This is a long way off, however. In the shorter term, intersections will likely comprise a complex mix of standard vehicles, driverless vehicles and partially automated vehicles, as well as cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and perhaps new forms of vulnerable road user. Without change, intersections will continue to kill and injure at an unacceptable rate.

Our research provides important messages for how the intersections of the future should be designed. Designers should equally consider the needs of all users, rather than considering drivers first and the rest afterwards. Critically, this should extend to driverless vehicles and automated systems. What, for example, are the situation awareness needs of a fully driverless vehicle when negotiating an intersection? How can intersection design support these needs as well as those of human users?

Designers should not fall into the trap of assuming that all road users require the same information when negotiating intersections. While separating them physically, the intersection of the future should aim to connect its users cognitively.


We would like to acknowledge our colleagues and collaborators who have contributed to this research, including Professor Mike Lenne, Associate Professor Guy Walker, Professor Neville Stanton, Dr Natassia Goode, Dr Nick Stevens and Dr Ashleigh Filtness.

The ConversationYou can find other articles in the series here.

Paul Salmon, Professor of Human Factors, University of the Sunshine Coast and Gemma Read, Research Fellow in Human Factors & Sociotechnical Systems, University of the Sunshine Coast

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.