Cheese slices could help stop COVID-19


A Brisbane scientist's creative method of explaining how people can protect themselves from COVID-19 is being implemented across the world in areas where the killer virus is running rampant.

Virologist Ian Mackay's swiss cheese computer graphic is being used by international health departments, and has reached the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US.

It has been embraced as a unique public health message to spread the word that multiple interventions, both personal and shared, improve the chances of escaping the virus.

"Each slice of cheese has holes, but each action can prevent the virus escaping through these holes," said Dr Mackay, who worked on the artwork with the help of his University of Queensland colleagues.

"It's simple, yet complex. No one thing is going to end this pandemic.

"The graphic has been given a lot of attention on Twitter.

"We are happy that it is of use in other countries, where they can tweak it to suit their own environment."

The graphic, which is based on the swiss cheese Model of Accident Causation by James Reason, has been translated into many languages including Korean, Spanish and German.



Physical distancing, wearing masks, hand washing, cough etiquette and not touching your face are the personal strategies that are advised.

"If you are not wearing a mask or wearing an ineffective mask then the virus will escape through a hole but then there is another backup," Dr Mackay said.

Shared responsibilities include fast and sensitive testing and tracing, ventilation outdoors and air filtration, then government messaging and support, quarantine and isolation and vaccines.

Even though there are weaknesses in the layers when interventions are lined up then the outcome can be improved.

The creators have added a misinformation mouse to the image to make it clear that the spread of wrong information can eat away at the preventions.

"There are many false messages circulating about the virus and vaccines. It is vital that the public does not get pulled away from the reality," Dr Mackay said.





Originally published as Brisbane scientist's cheesy explainer goes viral

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