The COVID pandemic had few silver linings. But arguably one benefit was that several other infectious diseases were sent into hiatus while we were all lying low. There were far fewer cases of illnesses such as flu and whooping cough. But now the lockdowns are long behind us and these diseases are well and truly bouncing back.

As Laurence Luu explains, Australia is suffering a whooping cough outbreak, with case numbers particularly high in Queensland and New South Wales over recent months. We tend to see whooping cough outbreaks every 3 or 4 years, but we hadn’t seen one in roughly double that time.

The COVID pandemic could explain this unusually big gap. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also meant many missed routine vaccinations, which could leave us particularly vulnerable to a whooping cough outbreak now.

Whooping cough is a nasty disease, and especially dangerous for newborn babies. In recent years, the bacteria that causes it has been showing signs it might be getting better at evading vaccines and antibiotics. But the good news is current vaccines are still very effective at preventing serious illness from whooping cough, and reducing its spread. They remain our best tool to limit this outbreak, so Luu recommends ensuring your jabs are up-to-date.

Phoebe Roth

Deputy Health Editor

Whooping cough is surging in Australia. Why, and how can we protect ourselves?

Laurence Don Wai Luu, University of Technology Sydney

Vaccination is our best tool to limit this whooping cough outbreak.

Grattan on Friday: Albanese has made a statement in choosing Sam Mostyn as governor-general, but he could have been bolder

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Governor-general designate Sam Mostyn would become the latest punching bag in the culture wars. But how will her Governor-Generalship compare to others past?

An anonymous coder nearly hacked a big chunk of the internet. How worried should we be?

Sigi Goode, Australian National University

A secret, years-long project to implant a backdoor in a widely used free software tool was only foiled by luck.

Daylight saving has 80% support in Australia and a majority in every state

Thomas Sigler, The University of Queensland

Even in states that don’t have daylight saving, most people favour it. However, support is strongest in the country’s south, where the difference between summer and winter daylight hours is greater.

As the COVID cash glut comes to an end, the Reserve Bank is changing the way it sets and maintains interest rates

Isaac Gross, Monash University

How exactly does our central bank control the cost of borrowing in the first place?

Without community support, the green energy transition will fail. Here’s how to get communities on board

Simon Wright, Charles Sturt University

The energy transition could be scuppered by community scepticism. Communities have to see the benefits.

The cocoa price has doubled in mere months, but it shouldn’t add much to the price of chocolate: here’s why

Darian McBain, London School of Economics and Political Science

The doubling in the price of cocoa would have pushed up the price of cocoa in a typical snack bar by just six cents.

From ‘Fiction Fanatic’ to ‘Book Abstainer’: which type of reader is your teenager?

Leonie Rutherford, Deakin University; Andrew Singleton, Deakin University; Bronwyn Reddan, Deakin University; Katya Johanson, Edith Cowan University; Michael Dezuanni, Queensland University of Technology

A new study has identified seven types of teen readers. It also found about 30% do not read in their free time.

Esports, pickleball and obstacle course racing are surging in popularity – what are their health benefits and challenges?

Ben Singh, University of South Australia; Carol Maher, University of South Australia

Esports, obstacle course racing and pickleball are becoming more and more popular, but how do they impact physical and mental health?

Before Dawn: 19-year-old director’s new film is a sombre recount of the ANZACs’ sacrifice

Stephen Gaunson, RMIT University

The new Australian war epic is a young man’s production in more than one sense of the word.

Friday essay: ‘mourning cannot be an endpoint’ – James Bradley on living in an Age of Emergency

James Bradley, University of Sydney

So much is being lost due to climate change, one can feel deranged. But the world still hums with beauty and astonishment – there is much for us to save.

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