Visualisation of the Covid-19 virus

COVID-19: What we know now

Hear from experts in public health, infectious disease and mental health research

Over 12 months on, we are still living with COVID-19 globally. What has changed in the last year, and what have we learnt?

In March 2020, Sydney Ideas held a panel discussion with public health and mental health academics to answer some critical questions from health facts to broader societal implications. At the time, we didn't have a vaccine, and were learning new information about the virus every week.

Now, in June 2021 - over 18 months from the initial COVID-19 outbreak, University of Sydney experts discuss how COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the world we live in; from the spread of misinformation; impacts on mental health and young people; the longer term travel landscape and unexpected positive outcomes.


The panel

Julie Leask is professor and social scientist in the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sydney. Julie is a public health researcher focusing on vaccination and infectious disease risk communication. She has a background in public health, nursing and midwifery.

Julie is a visiting professorial fellow at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance and advisor to the World Health Organization. She was named overall and global category winner of the 2019 Australian Financial Review 100 Woman of Influence; won the Public Health Impact Award 2019 and the Sax Institute Research Action Award in 2015

Ramon Shaban is the Inaugural Clinical Chair and Professor of Infection Prevention and Disease Control at the University of Sydney and Western Sydney Local Health District, within the Sydney Nursing School and Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity.

As a credentialled expert infection control practitioner and emergency nurse, his inter-professional expertise in infectious diseases, infection control and emergency care are the basis of a highly successful and integrated program of teaching, practice, and research.

Tania Sorrell AM is Director of the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity (MBI) and Chair of the NHMRC’s Research Translation Faculty Steering Group on New and Emerging Health Threats.

She is an internationally renowned infectious diseases physician and medical mycologist whose research focuses on invasive fungal infections. She has a long-standing interest in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, especially in immunocompromised individuals. In 2014, she was awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM), for significant service to medicine and the community as an infectious diseases researcher and adviser.

Professor Teesson is Director of the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Illness and Substance Use (PREMISE) and NHMRC Principal Research Fellow at The University of Sydney.

Maree was announced as a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day 2018 Honours List. She is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, a National Mental Health Commissioner and Member, National Health and Medical Research Council. Passionate about helping young Australians at this time her award winning online school wellbeing resources have been made available free to schools and teachers during COVID19 and can be found at

Fenella has recently joined the University of Sydney as Head of Programming.

Prior to this appointment she was Head of Curation for TEDxSydney where she led the programming for one of the largest TEDx events in the world. An in-demand MC, presenter, interviewer, keynote speaker and moderator: and a noted television and radio presenter and producer, Fenella has hosted numerous radio and television shows. These have included Art Nation & Sunday Arts on ABC TV; The Movie Show on SBS TV; By Design on Radio National; and her long running cult electronic music show, The Sound Lab on Triple J. 2020 saw her work collaboratively across many virtual events and with many organisations including hosting the 40 minutes online program to launch the Chau Chak Wing Museum within the University of Sydney.