One of New Zealand's best-known experts is taking up the reins of a major global science body, just as it prepares to launch a sweeping report into the future of the pandemic.
Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, who served as New Zealand's inaugural Prime Minister's chief science advisor for a decade, is set to head the International Science Council (ISC) at a time the world grapples the dual crises of climate change and Covid-19.
Formed from a merger three years ago, the Paris-headquartered council brings together 40 international scientific unions and associations, along with more than 140 national and regional scientific organisations.
They range from the International Mathematical Union, to the World Association for Public Opinion Research.
"One of the things I'm very pleased about the ISC being formed, is that it's broken the barriers between social science, the humanities, and natural sciences," Gluckman said.
"When it was formed, its intent was to move from really just looking after the interests of its two predecessor organisations, to being truly the global voice for science in the international arena.
"Now, a lot of what it does is by way of representation and engagement with multi-lateral organisations, particularly the UN system."
The 72-year-old, who until recently chaired the ISC's "daughter group", the International Network for Government Science Advice, became the ISC's president-elect just hours after stepping down from his evidence-broking role for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Throughout the pandemic, Gluckman's new job has meant rounds of early-morning Zoom calls with overseas counterparts from Auckland, where he also remains director of the University of Auckland-based Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures.
Next month, the ISC launches a heavyweight report - overseen by a panel of experts including Gluckman and eminent Kiwi epidemiologist Professor Sir David Skegg - exploring possible scenarios for the pandemic over the coming years.
In an article published in The Lancet earlier this year, scientists on the panel suggested two potential pathways.
The most optimistic one, they said, was a "one world" scenario in which new-generation vaccines were effective against all variants of the virus - and effectively every country joined a co-ordinated effort to bring Covid-19 under control.
But even with international co-operation and enough funding, they acknowledged this would take a long time to achieve.
In the most pessimistic scenario, viral mutants with the ability to escape vaccine immunity emerged repeatedly - meaning that only rich countries could respond with rapidly-adapted vaccines for multiple rounds of re-immunisation.
The rest of the world, meanwhile, would be left to suffer repeated waves and vaccines that weren't effective enough to deal with new variants.
Gluckman said the impending report represented nearly a year's work, with input from hundreds of experts around the globe, as well as consultation with the World Health Organisation and the UN's Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
"We're looking at Covid, not just through a one-year lens, but through a three-to-10-year lens," he said.
"It's looking at antibodies, vaccines and treatments, and impacts on health, mental health, education, social systems and democracies."
Gluckman saw Covid-19 and climate change as two "existential risks" that, while moving on different time-scales, highlighted challenges that extended well beyond health.
Here, he said, played a "critical" role.
"Not just in the sense of basic knowledge, or having more research, but in terms of how it plays into public decision-making and diplomacy."
It was in those areas that the ISC sought to have a greater influence, through linking evidence and scientists to international policy-making.
"Clearly, New Zealand has developed a system and I think it's been very effective with Covid," he said.
"Not everybody will agree with every decision made - but there's no doubt that science has been at the centre of the Government's decision-making."
The science advisor system Gluckman helped establish more than a decade ago had a key behind-the-scenes part in New Zealand's crisis phase last year, with current chief advisor Professor Dame Juliet Gerrard and Ministry of Health advisor Dr Ian Town turning out rapid advice when ministers and officials needed it most.
Modelling has since indicated that, had the Government held off locking down amid the first wave even a few weeks longer, the prospects of elimination would have fallen to just 7 per cent.
"I take quiet pleasure from the groundings that I set, and how it's been developed since."
While New Zealand and a group of other, mainly Western nations were now well prepared to use science in every part of their systems, "it's few and far between after that".
"One of the challenges for the ISC is, can we work on a one-to-one basis with countries and help them think through the lessons of Covid-19, for the broader aspects of science advice."
But he pointed out that having good science was just one part of the equation - the other was having policy-makers prepared to listen to it.
Gluckman didn't cite it himself, but perhaps the most striking recent example of a science-policy disconnect was the administration of former US President Donald Trump, who was widely criticised for side-lining and sometimes silencing experts.
"I'm very worried that, at the very time where science is needed more than ever before, we also have another risk - misinformation - and the politicisation in some countries of anti-science."
What commentators have dubbed a "misinfodemic" was also a growing problem here.
A recent survey by the Classification Office suggested at least half of Kiwis believed in at least one statement associated with misinformation - and nearly 60 per cent said they'd recently encountered it.
"If it comes down to the point where, if you can't get agreement on facts, then you're going to have a lot more difficulty with these challenges ahead around things like water, energy security, climate change and social cohesion."