Experts fighting to keep Covid-19 out of New Zealand say they're suffering daily abuse and concerted online attacks from groups peddling disinformation.
University of Auckland research fellow Kate Hannah leads The Disinformation Project - a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment initiative looking at Covid-19 disinformation.
She said over the past year, there had been a rise in targeted hate towards experts and journalists who comment on and cover the virus. Most abuse subjects are women, which translates into highly gendered hate from not just individuals but from organisations.
"What we're seeing is organised campaigns or semi-organised responses, so when an expert is a mentioned by one of the people who is peddling disinformation, there'll be quite a concerted attack," Hannah said.
"The harassment has escalated for a number of my colleagues over the last 15-18 months and we also know it's increased internationally ... to the extent where people have had to hide their identity."
On a positive note, Hannah said that despite a rise in hate, there had also been a rise in community moderation - whereby members of the public denounce personally attacking behaviour.
"It makes a difference to the person who is receiving the harassment to see people sticking up for them."
Vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris is no stranger to this sort of harassment.
Since 2005, Petousis-Harris has faced a consistent flow of vitriol and hate - a flow which has grown into a torrent as the Covid-19 virus has gripped the world.
With a PhD in vaccinology from the University of Auckland, a diploma in advanced vaccinology from the University of Geneva, and more than 90 peer reviewed publications, book chapters and major reports, Petousis-Harris has become one of chief voices of authority on New Zealand's virus response and vaccine rollout.
However, her 22 years of experience in research, advice and communication in vaccines and vaccinations clearly mean little to the scores of people and organisations who use email and social media on a daily basis to attack the vaccinologist personally and professionally.
The majority simply tell her she is wrong, or provide links to various conspiracy websites peddling disinformation - information designed to do harm.
Some take it a step further, using threatening and hateful language to deliver their message.
A select few have an unnerving commitment to their harassment of the vaccinologist - keeping up their obsessive communication over years.
An early source of online abuse for Petousis-Harris was in the comments section on the website Sciblogs, where she has written a column roughly every few months since 2012.
"A lot of [the comments] I deleted because they got really nasty," she said.
Fortunately, the ability to leave comments has been removed from the website. However, that hasn't limited the opportunity for people to spread anti-Petousis-Harris material throughout the internet and into her inbox.
To begin with, Petousis-Harris engaged with those who contacted her - trying to explain technical scientific phenomena to people obsessed with perhaps the most minute details or preaching global conspiracies.
Now, she firmly disregarded anything she saw as trolling or abusive.
"Sometimes it catches you on a bad day and it can make you doubt yourself. It's never pleasant."
As someone who didn't take herself too seriously, Petousis-Harris was one of the lucky ones who could laugh off such personalised hate.
"You have to learn to put it in a box and that's what I do quite literally, and keep it in perspective."
She said it was disappointing to see experts and medical professionals intimidated by such material.
"Don't let that discourage you and don't let that scare you off, that's what they're trying to do."