Data Science in the News: Breaking out of COVID19

In this Data Science in the News webinar, we will explore the important role data science plays as we move into the next phase of the COVID19 pandemic and away from lockdowns.

About this event

Seminar Recording:

This webinar series is brought to you by the QUT Centre for Data Science and the Queensland Academy of Arts and Science.

*** This will be an online event only. Zoom link will be emailed to registrants on the day of the event. Webinar starts 12pm BNE time ***


Professor John Quiggin


Dennis Trewin AO FASSA

Professor Colleen Lau

Dr Helen Mayfield

Dr Adrianne Jenner


More about the Panel Session Topics

Dennis Trewin AO FASSA – The Doherty Report relied on Big Data

The Doherty Report underpins the Pandemic Plan, agreed by National Cabinet, which outlines the transition steps to be made by Governments as vaccination levels increase. The Report necessarily made a number of assumptions most of which are derived from models based on big data sources (eg COVID test data bases, Google mobility data). The assumptions are subject to uncertainty because of model error as well as errors in the big data sources themselves. The short presentation will summarise how a Statistical Society of Australia workshop proposed that the uncertainty in the Doherty assumptions should be addressed.


Professor Colleen Lau – CRISPER: COVID-19 Real-time Information System for Preparedness and Epidemic Response

CRISPER provides interactive data visualisation tools to support information sharing, contact tracing, and outbreak response to COVID-19.


Dr Helen Mayfield – Integrating the current best evidence to help informed decision making on the Astra-Zeneca vaccine

For those who are attempting to make an informed decision regarding the Astra-Zenenca (AZ) vaccine, communication in the media synthesising the current research can lack transparency, and often fails to compare relevant counter-factual scenarios in a meaningful way. To effectively use the current science for comparing the risk-benefits of the AZ vaccine, evidence from various sources needs to be combined in into a single model that can be used to generate meaningful scenarios. I’ll describe the process we used to rapidly prototype and validate a Bayesian network that combines the best available evidence to compare the risks of dying from blood clots from the AZ vaccine to the risk of dying from COVID-19. The resulting model can be used to generate evidence-based risk-benefit analyses that are relevant in an Australian setting. This work is supported by the Immunisation Coalition.


Dr Adrianne Jenner – Breaking down our bodies response to the COVID-19 vaccine with mathematics

Our bodies response to infection with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) is extremely heterogeneous. While the majority of people infected will exhibit mild to asymptomatic symptoms a proportion of the population will develop severe infections resulting in hospitalisation and sometimes fatalities. The driving force behind the development of these severe responses is an individual’s immune response to the viral infection becoming dysregulated. Fortunately, vaccinations present a way of preparing our bodies immune response so that when infected with SARS-CoV-2, the response is more controlled and effective at fighting the virus. With such a rapid rollout of vaccination throughout the world, many questions remain about vaccination efficacy given a patient’s underlying immune response and the impact of new viral mutant strains. Fortunately, there are teams of mathematical modellers throughout the world that are tackling these questions using data.


More about the Panellists

Dennis Trewin AO FASSA

Mr Trewin was trained as a statistician but has had 40 years of executive management experience in official statistics in Australia and New Zealand. He was the Australian Statistician from 2000 to 2007. He has also been an Electoral Commissioner and an Associate Commissioner at the Productivity Commission. He has chaired and been a member of Boards/Councils in the superannuation and university sectors. He is the current Chair of the Australian Mathematics Trust. He is a Past President of the International Statistical Institute, the International Association of Survey Statisticians, and the Statistical Society of Australia. He has been an Editor of the International Statistical Review. He is professionally accredited by the Statistical Society of Australia.

Professor Colleen Lau

Prof Colleen Lau is an NHMRC Fellow and Professorial Research Fellow at the UQ School of Public Health. Her areas of expertise include emerging infectious diseases, neglected tropical diseases, and clinical travel medicine. Her wide range of research interests include infectious disease epidemiology, spatial epidemiology and disease mapping, infectious disease surveillance and elimination, vaccinations, travel health, environmental health, and digital decision support tools. Professor Lau’s research projects focus on answering practical questions in clinical management of infectious diseases and operational questions on improving strategies to solve public health problems.

Dr Helen Mayfield

Helen is a data scientist whose work in epidemiology focuses on using data modelling to support decision science around Neglected Tropical Diseases. She is particularly fond of Bayesian networks, but employees various modelling and machine learning techniques, depending on the problem at hand. Her work in public health is closely aligned with her research in environmental conservation, and the links between human health and the health of the natural environment. Helen is a board member of the Australasian Bayesian Network Modelling Society and an Associate Investigate with the QUT Centre for Data Science.

Dr Adrianne Jenner

Dr Adrianne Jenner’s research focuses on the applications of mathematical modelling in medicine. This includes the use of deterministic and stochastic modelling to answer important questions in cancer research and COVID-19. For the most part, her research has been in developing mathematical models, closely calibrated to data, that help to understand cancer formation and treatment using oncolytic virotherapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy. She has also been involved in developing systemic and tissue level models of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 with the goal of understanding the distinction between severe and mild disease responses. More recently, she has been a part of work that is investigating an individual’s ability to build an immune response to SARS-CoV-2 from vaccination and how the vaccine efficacy may be linked to an individuals response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.


More about the Moderator

John Quiggin is a Professor in Economics at The University of Queensland and is prominent both as a research economist and as a commentator on Australian economic policy. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and many other learned societies and institutions. He has produced over 1500 publications, including six books and over 250 journal articles, in fields including decision theory, environmental economics, production economics, and the theory of economic growth. He has also written on policy topics including climate change, micro-economic reform, privatisation, employment policy and the management of the Murray-Darling river system. His latest book, Economics in Two Lessons: Why Markets Work so Well, and Why They Can Fail So Badly, was released in 2019 by Princeton University Press.


Location: Online
Start Date: 22/10/2021 [add to calendar]
Start Time: 12pm
End Date: 22/10/2021
End Time: 1pm (AEST)