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Women wearing surgical masks during influenza epidemic, Brisbane 1919.

During the influenza epidemic, Brisbane 1919

As the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine continues, ABC Radio National’s Big Ideas explores an Australian history of viruses, ranging from the Spanish flu, smallpox, HIV, polio and, of course, COVID-19.

Host Paul Barclay with Dr Peter Doherty, Dr Peter Hobbins and Gillian Thomas discuss vaccine development and the impact of these life-changing events on Australian culture, science and national identity.

Listen to Vaccines and viruses on the ABC Big Ideas website

Broadcast on 14 October 2020

Meet the panel

Portrait of Peter Doherty
Dr Peter Doherty

Laureate Professor Peter Doherty shared (with colleague RM Zinkernagel) the 1996 Nobel Medicine Prize for discovering the nature of the cellular immune defense. Based at the University of Melbourne, he continues to be involved in research directed at understanding and preventing the severe consequences of influenza virus infection.  He has published six 'lay' books on science and the scientific life.

Portrait of Peter Hobbins
Dr Peter Hobbins

Trained as a pharmacologist, Dr Peter Hobbins is a professional historian with research interests in the history of science, technology and medicine. Peter is Principal Historian, Artefact Heritage Services and Honorary Associate, Department of History at the University of Sydney and a Visiting Scholar at the State Library of NSW. His book on Sydney's Quarantine Station, Stories from the Sandstone, won a Premier's History Award in 2017.

Portrait of Gillian Thomas
Gillian Thomas

Gillian Thomas OAM contracted polio at age 10 months in 1950, some six years before the Salk vaccine became available in Australia. The resulting paralysis affected both legs and one arm. Seeking to help her fellow polio survivors learn how to manage the late effects, she was instrumental in the foundation of both Polio NSW in 1988 and Polio Australia in 2008. Gillian is currently the President of both organisations.

Paul Barclay
Paul Barclay

Paul is a Walkley Award-winning journalist and broadcaster with an appetite for ideas and in-depth analysis and discussion. Host of ABC RN’s Big Ideas, he has convened several Defining Moments panel discussions.

This program is part of the Defining Moments in Australian History project which aims to stimulate discussion about events that have profound significance to Australian people.

Developed in collaboration with ABC Radio National.

A logo block for Radio National and Canberra Writers Festival.

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