Name a COVID viral variant after a mythical sea monster and you’re bound to create a stir. That’s what happened with one of the latest subvariants of Omicron – dubbed Kraken.

Kraken, or XBB.1.5 to give it its official name, is particularly common in the United States and has so far been found in more than 50 countries around the world.

In Australia, we have … drumroll please … about 29 documented cases so far. Suddenly those scary headlines look, well, a little overdone.

Yet there’s value in tracking new viral subvariants, for several reasons. As James Trauer and Angus Hughes from Monash University write today, this can give us clues to how the pandemic might progress.

When will the pandemic finally be over? Well, according to the World Health Organization, we’re now in the “transition” phase. In other words, we now have to begin to coexist with COVID. Hassan Vally from Deakin University explains what this actually means.

Anna Evangeli

Deputy Health Editor

The ‘Kraken’ subvariant XBB.1.5 sounds scary. But behind the headlines are clues to where COVID’s heading

James Trauer, Monash University; Angus Hughes, Monash University

XBB.1.5 and other subvariants do signal a change in how the virus is mutating. Here’s what this means for Australia and globally.

COVID remains a global emergency, the World Health Organization says, but we’re at a transition point. What does this mean?

Hassan Vally, Deakin University

We’re moving towards the ‘disease control’ phase of our response to COVID, which means learning to live with the virus. But significant challenges remain as authorities battle COVID fatigue.

Grattan on Friday: Chalmers attracts some flak for blue sky ideas but the government has bigger problems

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Chalmers has bought himself a doozy of a conversation, with his essay advocating we embrace “values-based capitalism”.

Short selling Adani: how an obscure US firm profited from triggering the Indian giant’s price plunge

Mark Humphery-Jenner, UNSW Sydney

Activist short selling is certainly controversial. But it’s not necessarily illegal nor unethical.

It’ll be tough for Perrottet to win the NSW election. But Labor won’t romp home either

David Clune, University of Sydney

As the NSW election looms, the Perrottet government is showing signs of having been in office too long. But that’s not to say Labor will romp home.

Grit or quit? How to help your child develop resilience

Sarah Jefferson, Edith Cowan University

As adults, we can reflect on experiences we’ve had in life that have helped build our resilience. But kids and adolescents are still developing grit and the ability to work towards a goal.

Why social media makes you feel bad – and what to do about it

Divna Haslam, Queensland University of Technology; Sabine Baker, Queensland University of Technology

Social media is ubiquitous but can make us feel down, when we compare our reality to unrealistic social media posts.

Why do black holes twinkle? We studied 5,000 star-eating behemoths to find out

Christian Wolf, Australian National University

While we can’t see inside a black hole, we can spot the intensely bright glowing disc that surrounds one. Now, we might better understand why these discs appear to ‘twinkle’.

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