The coronavirus pandemic is having far-reaching consequences on employment, the economy, education and mental health. Our scientists are not immune. Melbourne’s first and second wave of infections and subsequent lockdowns affected laboratory work, funding and the ability to juggle childcare and homeschooling with work and career. Many mourned the loss of work and home life balance. We asked four of our scientists how COVID-19 affected them.
Associate Professor Michelle Tate, Research Group Head, Viral Immunity and Immunopathology
WORK-LIFE | I have been busier than ever collaborating with commercial partners and performing experiments to facilitate drug development. The battle to find new treatments for COVID-19 infections is a global effort. It’s exciting to contribute by leading preclinical studies and collaborating with commercial partners, to directly facilitate drug development.
The impact a pandemic can have, not just on public health, is now much clearer. The threat of a bird flu pandemic, which carries a potential 50 per cent mortality rate, will now hopefully be taken more seriously. COVID-19 and influenza viruses similarly induce hyperinflammatory responses leading to tissue damage and severe disease. There is now a greater need to identify new drugs that limit inflammation and treat severe respiratory virus infections. COVID-19 has cemented the importance of my research and provided a greater sense of ambition.
HOME-LIFE | I have had to juggle increased work hours and pressures with family life. I regularly sneak off to work on weekends while my son has his nap. I am lucky to have an extremely supportive partner who has increased caring responsibilities, especially with the loss of childcare access during stage 4 restrictions.