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Festival director Dan Hendra said yesterday that acting on scientific advice had contributed to New Zealand now having no known cases of community-spread Covid-19.
"New Zealand has benefited from the scientists," he said.
A planned high-powered panel discussion on Saturday, the festival’s opening day, and featuring top Otago University researchers, including Michael Baker, also highlighted the important role that Otago academics had played.
Festival organisers had initially planned to stage about 240 events, but that had fallen to 70 given the disruption caused by the Covid-19 lockdown.
The festival runs until July 12.
Two of the festival’s biggest events will take place on Saturday at the University of Otago College of Education Auditorium.
The panel discussion is titled "Covid-19 Unmasked: Understanding the Pandemic", and features Otago academics in virology, microbiology, epidemiology and public health.
The panel comprises Profs Vernon Ward, Miguel Quinones-Mateu, Michael Baker, and David Murdoch, and senior virologist Dr Jemma Geoghegan, and the discussion starts at 6pm.
Earlier, Otago Museum science educator Amadeo Enriquez-Ballestero will turn the auditorium into an explosive science laboratory, to help explore the Big Bang theory.
A Big Science Show will also be run the next day.