COVID-19 DIARY – MARKETERS SAY YOU NEED TO MARKET SALVATION

May 20

Thursday.

There was news that Pfizer jabs could be more easily dispersed here in Australia. Currently Pfizer can be stored for up to five days in a regular fridge but now following research The Therapeutic Goods Administration were looking to approve normal fridge storage times be extende up to 31 days.

3,278,854 vaccines doses had been administered in Australia but 1.5 million doses were currently in storage so dispersal could be helped.

There was also talk in the media for the need for a bigger flashier advertising campaign for vaccination. Either the song and dance numbers from Asia or the charm of New Zealand’s relaxed demeanour or the starpower fo Sir Michael Caine and Sir Elton John in the UK or Dolly Parton in the U.S.

Advertising Guru Simon Reynolds who created the chilling Grim Reaper HIV advertisements from the 1980s wasn’t pulling any punches thirty years on. His advice, cut through apathy with fear because there is little doubt there virus is something to be afraid of.

With over 3 million dead and 164 million infected I am inclined to agree.

When asked if his advice was to use fear again he replied, “Well use reality.”

Pfizer drugs could be stored in a regular fridge from the now with fridge storage times going from 5 to 31 days which could prove a major development.

With the end of Jobkeeper in Australia, the unemployment rate had gone from 5.7 per cent in March to 5.5 per cent in April.

Thirty thousand and six hundred jobs had been lost in the month but the people looking for work also decreased from 66.3% to 66.0%.

Basically there were less people working and less people looking for work too.

Unemployment was effectively where it was pre-COVID in Australia which was kind of miraculous but that wasn’t too say there were people who had lost work or lost their business.

Eunice Wang had gone from a part time job in the tourism industry to casaul work in retail. Less hours, less security and less money but she was all smiles.

Heroes come in all forms.

Her resilience just one more example of what we need to support and what we need to find within ourselves.

Others like Jimmy and James Gantidis of the struggling to survive Melbourne River Cruises.

The Wall Street Journal had also covered the COVID crisis in India with an informative concise video.

In the United Kingdom the BBC was updating a page Covid: When will I get the vaccine with information.

On the 20th fo May, it advised people aged 34 and over could book to get their first vaccine dose. In Scotland it was anyone over 30 and in some parts of Glasgow it was anyone over 18. The Welsh were the same as Glaswegians and in Northern Ireland people 25 and up could get vaccinated. There was priority for some to get second doses too in England where the Indian variant was taking off.

Second doses are also being offered earlier to some people as concerns grew over the second variant.

With the priority on those age groups that meant those who wanted to get vaccinated in older age brackets should have mostly already done so. Also the bulk of frontline health and social care workers, clinically extremely vulnerable people and those with underlying health problems aged over 16 had also been prioritised.

Those who had their first done should have received their second dose within twelve weeks of the first. There was a shift too for those over 50 with health conditions to get their second dose now within eight weeks of the first jab.

The three vaccines of choice in the UK remained the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZenea and Moderna.

Previously the decision had been made on the 7th of April to offer an alternative for those under 30 from the AstraZeneca vaccine due to extremely rare cases of blood clots.

At the end of March 20 million doses of AstraZeneca had been administered with 79 cases of blood clots resulting in 19 deaths. A one in million chance fo dying. Out of those nearly two of the cases had been women, the people who died were 18 to 79 years old with three of them under 30.

Since the 7th of May that had heen applicable to those under 40 years of age.

That decision was taken as the numbers racked up to 242 clotting cases and 49 deaths from 28.5 million doses administered.

The UK’s medicines safety regulator says there have been 242 clotting cases and 49 deaths, with 28.5 million doses of the vaccine administered.

With thoses stats the risk of death from a blood clot was two in a million chance for people over 40 and four in a million chance for those over 30.

The risk of a clot is roughly one in 100,000 for people in their 40s, but rises to one in 60,000 for people in their 30s. Two in a million people in their 40s died rising to four per million people in their 30s.

Table comparing the Oxford, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax and Janssen vaccines

Official guidance currently was to have people get the same vaccine for both doses. It was believed teh three vaccines currently being used in the UK would prevent people becoming seriously ill or dying even against variants.

It appeared the Indian variant spread more easily.

Companies were working to have booster jabs ready to counter variants by autumn in the northern hemisphere.

The Cov-Boost study will recruit 3,000 people of all ages to test whether re-vaccinating some people in the autumn is necessary.

The UK had on order eight different vaccines and 517 million doses.

Following on from 40 million Pfizer doses initially there were now at least 60 million Pfizer booster jabs to come in the northern autumn.

Chart showing the vaccine doses the UK has on order
In the UK the vaccine was being offered to pregnant women.
The UK’s vaccine committee says pregnant women should be offered a jab when other people their age get one.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferable, they say, because data relating to 90,000 pregnant women has not raised any safety concerns.

Data on how the AZ vaccine works in pregnant women may become available in the near future.

For the moment Pfizer was approved for use in over 16 year olds and AstraZeneca and Pfizer over 18s with of course that major caveat regarding AstraZeneca.

In Canada and the U.S. Pfizer was approved for use with teenagers.

No decision has been made on whether teenagers or younger children will be offered a vaccine in the UK.

AstraZeneca is trialling its vaccine on six-to-17-year-olds in the UK. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are currently testing their vaccines on those aged 12-18.

Moderna and Pfizer are also testing their jabs on children between six months and 11 years old.

There were 2,135 new daily COVID cases in Great Britain on the 20th of May.

And three daily deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 20, 2020

It is announced that Captain Tom Moore who raised 33 million pounds for the UK’s National Health Service by completing 100 laps of his garden in the lead-up to his 100th birthday will receive a Knighthood from Her Majesty The Queen.

Captain Tom wears glasses, blazer and war medals with a thumbs up in front of cakes decorated with planes and tanks.

COVID-19 DIARY – ONE IN THREE?!

What Vaccines Should my Baby Get | What Vaccinations Should my Baby Have

May 19

Wednesday.

There was some back and forth between leaders about the proposed quarantine facility in Toowoomba, Queensland.

Who’s going to operate it? Where’s the workforce going to come from? Who’s running the infection control procedures or where is the security workforce coming from? All of this needs to be established,” Prime Mr Morrison had told ABC radio on Tuesday.

We will continue to put our case to the federal government, but it’s a bit rich cherry-picking which ones the federal government likes and which ones they don’t like. [Prime Minister Scott Morrison] doesn’t need any more detail … the threshold question here is are they going to allow flights to land into the airport, yes or no?” was the response from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk the next day.

While Queensland Oppositon Leader David Crisafulli noted, “It seems a little strange that Victoria, a government of the same political persuasion as here in Queensland, has been willing to release that to the Commonwealth.

Regardless further facilities like the one at Howard Springs would be useful for building capacity for taking on returned travellers and avoiding breakouts in capital cities.

Sydney Morning Herald and The Age ran a poll and reported that one in three Australians who had not been vaccinated were hesitant to get vaccinated.

The Prime Minister spun it into a postive about 70 per cent who wanted to get the jab.

“Let’s just get on with them,” Mr Morrison said.

There’s plenty of time to have the chat with the others who are a bit hesitant. That’s alright, it’s a free country and they should talk to their doctor. Those who are hardcore against it is a much smaller number – a much, much smaller number – but there are others who are open to the conversation and we will have that,” said the PM.

While one in three wouldn’t pony up a bare sleeve to save lives from a poll was the talk of the news broadcasters.

Actual news was a new record of 95,000 doses had been adminsitered in the past 24 hours in the country. We now sat at 3.28 million jabs performed.

The single biggest source of confidence any Australian can have is looking at their friends and family, their mum and dad, their grandma and grandpa being vaccinated,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.e told reporters in Brisbane.

There had been 18 rare blood clot cases in Australia from 1.8 million AstraZeneca vaccinations.

Those rates are very similar to what have been seen overseas but the difference here in Australia, the experts are saying, is that the cases appear to be more mild. They are speculating this is because there is high awareness here in Australia, physicians don’t have the huge strain of treating COVID-19 in our healthcare system, so they have been diagnosed earlier and managed really effectively with good outcomes,” Liz Chatwin, the president of AstraZeneca in Australia and New Zealand

Experts have reported there are 50 blood clots every day in Australia from a multitude of different causes, so that just underlines how rare this condition is,” she further added.

If Australians needed another reminder of reasons to get vaccinated they need look no further than India.

There bodies washed up in on the shore of the River Ganga.

Bodies also protruded through the sand of the shore where many had been buried.

The images were harrowing and revealed yet again the horror and scale of the loss being felt in the country at the moment.

On the 19th of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported the highest number of daily deaths in India with 4,529.

That took the total to 283,248 deaths.

There had been 25,496,330 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 267,334.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL OUT ROLL UP – PART VIII

U.K. rolls out 1st doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine | CBC News

May 18

Tuesday.

Five months and ten days after 90 year old Margaret Keenan got the first jab in the UK – my younger sister in London got vaccinated.

The good news didn’t stop there.

There was an opening and her husband walked up the road and got vaccinated as well.

WIth cases already occuring at their school again this was welcome news even if it would take time for the full protection offered by their Pfizer shot to take full effect.

The good news didn’t stop there, family over in Canada had also got vaccinated with Moderna.

News of people I cared about abroad getting vaccinated was a welcome relief and couldn’t have come soon enough.

In England another step was made in the lowering of restrictions.

Britons could now go abroad to Portugal and a few other limited countries.

Hospitality and tourism were back in business.

People walk at The Arcade shopping mall, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bedford town centre, Britain May 25, 2021. REUTERS/Paul Childs

Cinemas, restaurants, museusm and casinos as well as The London Eye were all open for business giving close to 1 million people a change to go back to work.

Theatre was back – The West End was open for the first time in 14 months.

Cases of the Indian variant in the country had double in the past 4 days reported Channel 9 News.

It was interesting to watch here in Australia. Britain had suffered more in case numbers and deaths than here in Australia and as a result had endured a more lengthy and stringent lockdown.

But international travel was still limited in Australia and while our theatres had opened up again without restrictions the number of cases were significantly less at the point those decisions were made then was the case currently in Great Britain.

It seemed and I would appreciate any commentary from my fellow British bloggers, that Britons had endured something and were enthuasiastic about their new freedom.

If there was a risk to enjoying it they felt they had endured enough to consider taking that risk. Maybe also an awareness that restictions could be lowered again.

Happy to hear your thoughts.

In the news was discussion about Queensland not having a mass vaccination hub with the Queensland Premier arguing the population was more decentralised. In the past 24 hours New South Wales and Victoria had each dispensed over 11,000 vaccine doses. Queensland and Western Australia had both been under three thousand each.

a man and a woman sitting at a table in front of a window: Chris Uhlmann sits down with Scott Morrison.

There was talk of a vaccine passport again, this time to allow more free travel between states during lockdowns for those who had been vaccinated.

All of those arrangements will have to be put in place,” said the Prime Minister acknowledging the power lay with the state governments.

[It’s them] who actually prevent Australians moving from one state to another consistent with their public health orders,” he said.

On international borders where the power lay with the Federal Government, the PM advised it would be a gradual process.

One step at a time and a risk that Australia can manage safely. It’s not closed one day, open the next. It will be tempered by the medical advice at every step,” Morrison said.

It’s not something that’s doable yet,” he added in regards to travellers quarantining at home after returning.

An 18 year old nursing student had been hospitalised with blood clots three weeks after receiving an AstraZeneca jab. It took five hospital visits to get properly diagnosed and it properly left her shaken.

Also in the news 47 year old Sydney father Govind Kant had passed away. A son who went back to his bury his mother in India, he was then unable to get a flight back before getting COVID. He recovered from the virus but his lungs were too damaged and he passed away. In the space of six weeks his family had lost a mother, a father and their brother.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 18, 2020

A truck driver who had tested positive to COVID-19  had made deliveries to twelve McDonalds while asymptomatic in Fawkner, Melbourne.

It was one year on since the Prime Minister Scott Morrison had won the election. In his first year as leader the devastating bushfires of the 19-20 Summer had occurred followed by COVID.

COVID-19 DIARY – HOW YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR MOST VULNERABLE

Gladys Berejiklian on Twitter: "What an amazing welcome from the staff at  the Endeavour Foundation warehouse in Seven Hills- the largest employer of  people with intellectual disability in Australia.… https://t.co/3oNHXjZtF9"

May 17

Monday.

I have talked previously about the fact that many people with disabilities were being left behind in the vaccine roll-out.

Now finally there was some media coverage thanks to one angry Mum named Margaret Ruff who had had enough.

Her son 45 year old Raymond who lives in a residential group home was still waiting for the jab.

This example struck close to home with regards to my older sister.

And now we had the stats.

Out of 26,000 people with disabilities living in care residences across Australia.

Only 999 had received a jab.

The country had moved to 2A of the vaccine rollout to get everybody over 50 vaccinated but at least 25,000 vulnerable people who fell under catergory 1A which started roll-out in February were still waiting for their jabs.

The disability royal commission heard from families today “Basically we’ve sort of been left on our own.

As at 15th of May, 2021 3,089,183 vaccine doses had been administered in the country wtih 32,386 in a the 24 hours leading up to that.

There were complications to be sure.

There had been 296,336 doses given to those in aged care and residentially disability facilities with 1,524 given in the past 24 hours

67,172 of those were doses administered had been in Queensland.

There were lots of things to complicate delivery of vaccines amongst those with disabilities and in aged care.

One was travel, you had to do and delivery at the residency and you weren’t going to do for one jab.

There was consent to be gained or established.

If they were underlying health conditions you had to get the go ahead from your Doctor or specialist which could take more time here.

You might need others on sight for those who would be anxious to get a needle without someone that put them at ease.

But allowing for all of that – it was absolutely piss poor what had occurred here.

We need to do better.

As Margaret Ruff put it, “It’s disgusting, it’s absolutely disgusting. How do you judge society, by the way they treat their ill and vulnerable.

With the India travel ban there had been renewed talk about how to improve our quarantine system in Australia.

In the news that week there was talk of using Bladin Point for overseas workers for Australian farms to be be quarantined. The facility currently did that for a U.S. Marine Rotational Force that trains in the Northern Territory during the dry season.

Thousands of US marines to touch down in Darwin before June 2021 - ABC News

“When those contracts finish then there is the opportunity to do further work there, particularly dealing with workforce requirements in the Territory,” he told reporters on Brisbane on Monday.

The Victorian government had also spent $15 million dollar to prepare for the construction of a 500 bed quarantine facility at Mickleham north of Melbourne. It would take $200 million to build but that was small change compared to the cost to the economy when a capital city or state goes into lockdown.

A proposal from Queensland to build at Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba to quarantine 1,000 travellers and be manned from 300 staff was rejected.

Increase in infrastructure could be the boom Toowoomba needs

The idea that you can just put these out in the desert somewhere, and I know Toowoomba’s not in the desert but the point being (that) they need to be close to a major capital city airport. The planes aren’t going somewhere else, they’re coming into Brisbane, and that is a very long trek over to Toowoomba,” said the Prime Minister.

Victoria has put a very comprehensive proposal to us, something we can actually work with, and we are. If they [the Queensland government] were to do that, then they could expect the same sort of hearing that the Victorian government’s getting,” the PM explained.

Howard Springs is 25 kilometres from Darwin.

Mickleham is 40 kilometres from Melbourne.

Victoria's Mickleham quarantine hub proposal site a surprise to most

Wellcamp Airport is 160 kilometres from Brisbane.

I wondered what were the factors that went into these decisions.

Previously remote locations had been ruled out because of lack of access to major health care facilities.

On the other hand the push was to mitigate all the pressure on hotel quarantines in major capital cities.

Some outbreaks had occurred following leaks from hotel quarantine staff being out in the community unknowingly infecitous.

But other outbreaks had occured when returned travellers had spent time in quarantine, tested negative and subsequently gone out in the community and been infectious.

Yet again other outbreaks had occured from hospital staff becoming infected.

In terms of distance Ipswich was 40 kilometres from Brisbane but also been part of a greater Brisbane lockdowns this year.

A recent lockdown in South East Queensland had seen cases spread as far as Byron Bay 165 kilometrest to the south and Gladstone 515 kilometres to the north.

So distance couldnt’ be the only factor here, available facilities, support and necessary staff and travel all had to be weighed up.

Furthermore it appeared these facilities were to augment not replace hotel quarantine.

Researchers at Griffith University in Queensland were working on an anti-viral drug which would seek out and destroy COVID-19 cells in an infected person’s lungs while leaving other cells unharmed.

The hope was the drug could be on the market in two years.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 17, 2020

Some national parks in Queensland had re-opened. Karen and I headed out on a Sunday drive, going to the Natural Bridge in Springfield National Park near the border of New South Wales.

COVID-19 DIARY – REVIEW OF ‘PLUCKED’ AT ANYWHERE FESTIVAL AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

Weekend Notes 23

 

May 16

 

I got an e-mail a little while back inviting me to review a show at Anywhere Festival which was pretty exciting.

On Sunday night Karen and I left early from a family gathering and headed for Elements Collective a bar in the Valley.

I really enjoyed the themes and jokes of Plucked, the first show from new theatre company WhittleBerry.

The review ran in the Weekend Notes newsletter, racked up some views and the following weekend the show was sold out.

So a lot can be expected from WhittleBerry in the years to come and it was very exciting to see their firsrt show.

You can read my review here Plucked – Anywhere Festival – Brisbane (weekendnotes.com)

I really enjoyed going to the Anywhere Festival in 2021 and seeing a terrific show.

As Karen and I headed home, I once again realised how lucky i was to live in Australia while developments happened elsewhere.

Actress Lisa Hickey made her directorial debut here, I had previously seen her perform in The Curators productions of Uncle Vanya and Ibsen’s Ghosts, and as Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar mounted by heartBeast Theatre, writing reviews for Scenestr and Weekend Notes.

I really enjoyed going to the Anywhere Festival in 2021 and seeing a terrific show.

It had been a while since we had gone to see a show in the Valley. I once again realised how lucky i was to live in Australia while developments happened elsewhere.

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – REPATRIATION

Howard Springs quarantine capacity boosted | Katherine Times | Katherine, NT

 

May 14

 

The first repatriation flight for Australians from India since the short lived travel ban took off from New Delhi with only half of the 150 the passengers scheduled to be on board.

Forty-six people had COVID and twenty four were close contacts. 

Forty six having tested positive for the more contagious Indian variant and people close to them left behind for what would have been their deliverance.

While the government tried to fill the flight with more passengers, it struggled to do so because of the window for pre-flight testing restrictions.

People like Jitin Wig whose wife and toddler tested positive. 

“The whole medical system here is a shambles, so if it does get serious here for any of us, I’m not sure how I’d be able to get help. I’m not sure if I’d be able to get any medicines, I’m not sure if I’d be able to get any oxygen, or anything else they might need,” Wig said of the overworked Indian health care system they might need help from in the coming days.

I understand the government’s position, if people are testing positive, they don’t want to bring the infection over, I understand they are trying to protect the economy, the people. Even though I’m one of those people who didn’t get to go on a flight today, I would still agree that I somebody is testing positive, it is best – for the larger good, I would say – to not bring them over,”the father added.

He did want the government to help those left behind with medical support and consider taking particularly vulnerable people if they had COVID. 

Would you want to board an international flight with someone with COVID on board?

What was the likelihood somebody on that flight would ultimately test positive?

Could other arrangements be made to get those vulnerable people home than just putting them on a flight with others? 

Surely.

Sunny Joura interviewed on ABC News was due to travel on the same flight with his elderley mother but he tested positive. 

In a moment that would have been unsettling he did well to stay calm during an interview with ABC News. He had previously tested negative to fly back on the 28th of April when the ban was put in place. 

He did suggest that decision could now potentlally prove to have turned out to be a death sentence for him.

He also said that only five repatration flights had been sent over from June to December 2020 to India which had been a missed opportunity to get people home before this subsequent wave. Only 750 out of 10,000 Australians in the country had been able to get on repatriation flights during that six month period. He had been trying to get home for 11 months and had had two flights previously cancelled but this was the first time he had tested positve.

The goverment had tried to fill the suddenly spare seats but pre-flight testing didn’t give much of a window of time.

Prior to boarding people take a PCR test two days before the flight and then a rapid antigen test. Both have to return negative results.

 

 

QF112 arrived at the RAAF base in Darwin on Saturday morning. Picture Glenn Campbell

 

May 15

 

The next day Qantas Flight 112 touched down in RAAF Darwin with the passengers headed for quarantine in Howard Springs.

I’m sure they didn’t feel that whatever they had gone through was over but hopefully the worst of it was.

How many would test positive while in quarantine?

How many had left for India to care for a loved one or bury them?

How many counted themselves lucky just to be home?

I wonder.

For what its worth in this small corner of the internet.

Welcome home, it’s good to have you back and hope to have everyone home soon.

“We really need to ensure that we have a system in place to bring these people safely home so they can receive the medical care here in Australia that they require. If our system can’t handle easily 100 people coming back who are testing positive a week, if that if it can’t handle that, then we need to look seriously at our healthcare system,” Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott, from the Global Health Security Network, said.

 

 

May 16

 

On the 16th of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 161,854,452 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 675,747. 

There had been 3,367,187 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 12,305.

They're our family': Australia pledges 1m Covid-19 vaccine doses to Papua  New Guinea | Papua New Guinea | The Guardian

In Papua New Guinea there had been 13,928 confirmed cases. There had been 136 deaths.

There had been 504 new daily cases on May 11. Thirteen deaths would be reported on the 20th of May, the most in one day in the small nation. The spread of the virus was still going on in PNG.

As of the 13th of May there had been 11,537 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. 

In Australia there had been 29,967 confirmed cases with a daily increase of ten. There had been 910 deaths.

As of the 27th of April there had been 3,089,183 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

In Canada there had been 1,318,399 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,991. There had been 24,869 deaths with a daily increase 44.

As of the 20th of May there had been 20,124,578 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of Canada was 37.59 million people.

African nation worst hit by COVID-19 falling behind on vaccines | The Japan  Times

In South Africa there had been 1,611,143 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,750. There had been 55,183 deaths with a daily increase of 59. 

As of the 25th of May, 2021 there had been only 182,983! vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of South Africa was 58.56 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,447,984 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,156. There had been 127,675 deaths with a daily increase of seven.

Those daily numbers were similar to the early part of March 2020 when the first wave was building and late August before numbers continued to rise to devastating effect over winter. Not quite the lull of June and July 2020 but close.

As of the 24th of May there had been 60,965,594 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of Great Britain was 66.65 million people. Given they were now vaccinating people 38 years old and over there must be a few who had gotten second doses or even more?

World reacts to India's catastrophic COVID surge | Coronavirus pandemic  News | Al Jazeera

In India there had been 24,684,077 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 311,170. There had been 270,284 deaths with 4,077.

A record of new daily deaths had been set on the 12th of May with 4,205 deaths recorded that day.

As of the 24th of May there had been 200,494,991 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. 

In the United States of America there had been 32,574,504 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 40,431. In March, April, May and June 2020 the daily averages had never been that high. Many had been less than 20,000 back then. 

There had been 579,664 deaths with a daily increase of 680.

As of the 13th of May there had been 283,181,265 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of the U.S. was 328.2 million people.

 

-Lloyd Marken

 

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 14, 2020

A MacDonalds at Fawkner in Melbourne Victoria had 90 staff tested and isolated pending results after a break-out of eight COVID-19 cases from the fast food outlet including four staff members and four family members of a worker.

May 15, 2020

On the 15th of May the World Health Organisation reported 6,989 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 14. 98 Australians had died and there was no daily increase.

 

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL OUT ROLL UP – PART XII

What is the Moderna COVID vaccine? Does it work, and is it safe?

May 13

Thursday Australia announced a deal to procure 25 million doses of the American Moderna vaccine with 10 million jabs hopefully by the end of year and then 25 million booster jabs next year to deal with variants.

As the federal govenrnemt looked to set-up production of MRNA vaccines in Australia Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement, “We look forward to continuing discussions with Australia about establishing potential local manufacturing opportunities.

Adelaide plant BioCina who had bought a plant in Adelaide off Pfizer threw its hat into the ring as being able to produce MRNA vaccines like Moderna at its facility within 12 months.

We can have the ability to manufacture a hundred, a hundred and fifty million doses that would serve the region rather than just Australia so there is an export oppourtunity as well,” BioCina Chief Executive Ian Wisenberg said.

This followed deals with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Novaxin and Moderna would still need to secure the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

If supplies from Pfizer were delayed maybe ones from Moderna, which had a cited efficacy rate of 94.1 per cent, might help with numbers..

We think there is no reason why you can’t mix and match vaccines. The trial data is not out yet. There’s some trials being done UK looking at AstraZeneca first done and Pfizer or Moderna second dose.” Department of Health Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said looking ahead to the future.

The Univesity of South Australia was also developing a vaccine in partnership with Biotech Company Semetis had also received three million dollars from the Australian government. It was possible still a year from getting to the market. 

In New South Wales 7,500 people got vaccinated in one day.

WIth 7 new cases of blood clots in Australia there were now 18 cases of blood clots from 1,800,000 vaccinations in Australia. That was 1 in a 100,000 chance of having it happening to you someone vaccinated. Remember 1 in 600 Americans had died from COVID last year.

An independent panel for the handling of the pandemic released its findings.
It didn’t get much news coverage despite holding many lessons for I learn from not just for future pandemics for the current ongoing one.

Some critical points were the sharing of information between nations, empowering the World Health Organisation and effectively in terms of the outbreak in the West a lack of action throughout the month of February, 2020.

ABC News reported some suggestions were a disease surveillance system that could publish information about developments in a country they were working in without the need to get permission to do so and rich countries doing more to vaccinate poorer nations.

Let’s hope some lessons are learned from the panel’s findings.

On the 12th of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation recorded in India there had been 4,205 deaths in one day.

A new record.

May 14

A new step in the vaccine roll-out a week on from the 2A cohort was due to start next Monday with 400,000 Pfizer doses to be dispensed to 14 different sites across Victoria for a small group of those under age 50.

You had to make a booking and priority would be given to critical and high risk workers, adults with underlying health conditions, disabiltiy and aged care carers and workers.

Uber Drivers and public transport workers could make a booking from May 24th the following Monday.

Victorian Acting Premier James Merlino advised the state was averaging 8,000 vaccinations a day. A testing clinic at the Melbourne Showgrounds would also open a mass vaccination hub on Monday as well.

I am very supportive of any measures to get as many people vaccinated as possible as quickly as possible. Winter is coming,” Shadow Health Minister Georgie Crozier said.

The bulk of contract tracing and COVID tests following in the wake of a man who had tested positive earlier in the week having travelled from Adelaide had returned negative results with no new daily community cases. The man had originally departed India on the 19th of April and travelled via the Maldives and Singapore.

Channel Nine News reported three hundred thousand vaccine doses had been given out so far in the state.

Army drafted in as 'mass' coronavirus testing is rolled out in Bolton | The  Bolton News

In Great Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the staged steps to lower restrictions could be disrupted by the Indian strain which was spreading through Great Britain.

In one week Public Health England reproted cases of the variant had tripled in the country with 1,255 in England, 35 in Scotland, 12 in Northern Ireland and eleven in Wales.

On May 14th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there were 2,656 new daily cases.

On Monday England was due to open up pubs and restaurants and six people from two households could gather at one of their places.

After that was the fourth and final step due June 21 where there will be no limits on social gatherings indoors or outdoors, no limits on weddings and nightclubs will re-open.

That seemed to still be on the cards but the PM warned, “I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move to step four in June.

But I urge everyone to exercise the greatest caution because the choices we each make in the coming days will have a material effect on the road ahead,” he added.

Having down throught the ages with one jab currently anyone over 38 could get vaccinated. Now there was a run on to cut the 12 week gap between the first and second jab to just eight weeks for those over 50 or with underlying health conditions.

Mr Johnson added that there was “no evidence to suggest that our vaccines will be less effective in protecting people against severe illness and hospitalisation”.

The UK’s Chief Medical Adviser Professor Chris Whitty warned that if the Indian variant was more transmissible the island nation would see a significant surge.

That’s a really critical question to which we do not yet have the answer. We expect over time this variant will overtake and come to dominate in the UK in the way that the Kent variant did,” he added.

Remember how the UK strain was up to 70 per cent than the orginal COVID that across the West, well the Indian strain could be 50 per cent more transmissible than the UK strain according to the Scientific Adivsory Gorup for Emergencies (Sage).

The British Army were deployed to the towns Blackburn and Bolton to help with handing out test kits.
Mobile testing units had been set up Bolton and opening hours and delivery of doses had been increased at that town’s vaccination centres.
A rapid response team of 100 nurses, public health advisers and environmental health officers had also been sent.
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In the United States of America the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eased indoor mask wearing guidance for vaccinated people allowing them to not wear masks in most indoor places.

The CDC guidelines showed quite clearly by vaccinating you were less at risk and could engage in more activities.

As vaccinations slowed down there was a push to encourage more of the populace to drive those vaccinated numbers just a little higher.

Governors were doing their part like in Ohio where vaccinated adults could go in the draw to win one million U.S. dollars. I’ll do it for free but God Bless America.

But New York Mayor Bill De Blasio was a man more after my own heart tucking into fast food that New Yorkers could get from Shake Shack if they got vaccinated. Free fries and a burger?! Hmmmmmm.

God Bless America!

And God bless Bill de Blasio, don’t listen to the haters Mr Mayor, you looked good tucking into that burger. I would’ve made a meal of it.

-Lloyd Marken

Bill De Blasio GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 13, 2020

The number of unemployed was cited as 10% or 1.4million Australians. This was the highest unemployment rate since the early 1990s recession in Australia and in which unemployment had risen at a far slower rate then during the pandemic.

May 14, 2020

A MacDonalds at Fawkner in Melbourne Victoria had 90 staff tested and isolated pending results after a break-out of eight COVID-19 cases from the fast food outlet including four staff members and four family members of a worker.

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL OUT ROLL UP – PART XI

Coronavirus: Watch breathtaking India image on April 5 2020 at 9 pm  captured from Space

May 08

Saturday and I watched the ABC program Planet America which covered that vaccination numbers were going down in America where the most vaccines were available and a country that still had the highest recorded death toll from COVID.

The United States now set a target to have 70 per cent of the population aged 16 and over vaccinated by July 4th Independence Day. Currently about 56 per cent are at least partially vaccinated.

The state with the most fully vaccinated population was Maine with 41.5 per cent.

Texas was at 28 per cent and the state with the least was Alabama with 24.1 per cent.

The Food and Drugs Administration was looking to approve vaccinations for Americans 12 to 15 year olds starting next week.

The Brazil variant had now become the second most prevalent strain in the U.S.

America was also supporting the waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID vaccines.

May 09

In the United Kingdom I got a bit excited that over 40s in the UK were now getting the jab.
I hoped that meant it wouldn’t be much longer for my younger sister and her husband to get the vaccine.

On the 9th of May of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 157,375,575 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 814,195.

There had been 3,278,607 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 13,408.

The WHO reported as of the 20th of May, 1,448,242,899 vaccine doses had been administered worldwide. The population of the world was at least 7.674 billion people.

Coronavirus Can't Kill Me Now'; Africans Cheer Rollout of COVAX  Vaccinations | World News | US News

In Papua New Guinea there had been 12,226 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 140. Two days later there would be 504 new daily cases.

There had been 121 deaths. The next day there would be nine deaths reported. The outbreak continued in PNG.

The WHO reported as of 13th of May there had been 11,537 vaccine doses adminstered in the country. The population of Papua New Guinea was 8.776 million people.

In Australia there had been 29,906 confirmed cases with a daily increase of nine. There had been 910 deaths.

The WHO reported as of the 27th of April 3,089,183 vaccine doses had been administered in the country. The population of Australia 25.36 million people.

Canada: COVID at 'critical' levels, personal contact discouraged |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

In Canada there had been 1,273,169 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,849. There had been 24,529 deaths with a daily increase of 40.

The WHO reported as of the 13th of May there 17,563,063 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of Canada 37.59 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,433,094 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,047. There had been 127,603 deaths with a daily increase of five.

The WHO reported as of the 18th of May there had been 56,992,075 vaccine doses adminitered in the country. The population of Great Britain was 66.65 million people.

In Brazil there had been 15,082,449 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 78,886. There had been 419,144 deaths with a daily increase of 2,165.

The WHO reported as of the 13th of May there had been 50,011,889 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of Brazil was 211 million people.

Turn away if you do not want to be displayed by the plight of the Indian people and what they have endured.

Below is a photo of the bodies in the Ganges River.

Dozens of bodies wash up on the banks of the Ganges River - New York Daily  News

In India there had been 22,296,414 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 403,738. There had been 242,362 deaths with a daily increase of 4,092.

The day before had been the highest daily death count at 4,187.

The country would reach more than quarter of a million dead on the 12th of May with 254,197 deaths.

Only America and India had reached that milestone and the number of cases and deaths was believed to be much higher. 

The WHO reported as of the 17th of May there had been 185,766,518 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of India was 1.366 billion people.

In United States of America there had been 32,338,866 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,192. There had been 575,521 deaths with a daily increase of 790.

The WHO reported as of 13th of May there had been 264,357,485 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of the U.S. was 328.2 million people.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 08, 2020.

Fifty refrigerated trucks were parked in Sunset Park, Brooklyn spoke to the loss of life in New York City as funeral homes and moratories were overwhelmed.

Here in Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a 3 step program out of lockdown with state governments to choose their own timelines to follow.

COVID-19 DIARY – HEAVILY WEIGHTED DECISIONS – PART II

India's COVID-19 deaths will rise sharply till mid-May—US study | Inquirer  News

May 06

A Sydney man and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 having visited 14 suburbs over five days where he unknowingly had the virus.

In a twist there was no explanation for how we caught it.

Genomic testing linked him an American man who quarantined at the Park Royal in late April. So there was a missing link.

New restrictions were put in place on the eve of Mother’s Day to run three days until midnight Sunday night.

Mask were to be worn indoors and on public transport, there was no singing or dance indoors with the exception of weddings where 20 could get up and boogy. No more than 20 visitors were allowed in households and no more than two visitors to aged care facilities.

If this was WA or Queensland they would have shut down the whole city. They would have said stay at home, they would have said don’t go about your business. We’re saying the opposite,” jabbed Premier Gladys Berejiklian

Which was a bit funny because recently the Queensland Premier had chosen not to go into lockdown when a case had been out in the communtiy for several days. That decison ultimately meant that two Queenslanders with COVID had travelled to Byron Bay leading to the Bryon Bay Bluesfest having to be cancelled in Berejiklian’s home state.

Additionally there was the missing link element here, somebody was out in the community potentially with COVID with no idea that they had it, maybe even more.

Yet the New South Wale Premier was urging people to go out about their business.

It also did eventuate in a lockdown in south east Queensland so Berejiklian’s comments needed to taken as seriously as her thoughts had been prior to making them.

In Victoria state run vaccination centres were averaging 8,000 jabs a day since phase 2A started earlier in the week.

The New Zealand government paused travel from Sydney for two days.

Six thousand people from New South Wales had travelled to New Zealand over the last 6 days would be contacted.

Those who had been to Sydney hotspots travelling into Western Australia were ordered to self quarantine for 14 days and those entering Queensland had to go into hotel quarantine.

Canada also approved Pfizer for use on teenagers aged 12-16 following trials. There was still a long way to go in vaccinating the adult population though.

Nationwide the same day 14,568,067 doses had been dispensed and 1,173,962 people or 3.1 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated out of a national population of 37 and a half million.

In Queensland a man was in Intensive Care following blood clotting after getting the AstraZeneca vaccination. He was one of five cases of clotting across the country in the past ten days as the government moved to deliver 270,000 doses of the vaccine next week.

There had been eleven cases of blood clotting after 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca had been given in Australia including one dose to yours truly.

That is 11 / 1 400 000.

That is so far you had a 1 / 140 000 chance of getting a blood clot.

Out of those eleven cases though had been one fatality.

The threat of dying from COVID remained higher even in a country like Australia where case numbers and deaths had been so low.

Capacity at the Howard Springs facility was due to expand from 850 to 2,000 in preparation for repatriation flights from India as more aid from Australia landed in India.

An ABC News report said that these expansions would be complete by the end of the month, not May 15 but it did give the government time to have undertaken a lot of the work to expand capacity if repatriations did begin on May 15.

Two weeks is a long time in politics, Perth had been in lockdown at the end of April with talk about high numbers of COVID cases in hotel quarantine.

Back then the pressure was on for the Federal Government to act to protect the country from another outbreak in the community and certain sectors of the media were constantly bemoaning shutdowns as hurtful to the economy.

The plan to do something had been discussed at National Cabinet and signed off by health beaurecrats.

But now less than a week later and the focus was on the moral considerations of such an unprecedented decision and the government seemed anxious to peel back the law in another weeks’ time.

Phrasing it around lower number COVID cases in hotel quarantine and a shift to more repatriations through facilities like Howard Springs made sense.

Specialist staff at the Howard Springs facility wear heavy PPE gear.

It was understood the first repatriation flight from India would start as soon as the ban lifted May 15 with a flight that could bring home 200 passengers with priority given to 900 Australians stranded in the sub-continent that were classed as vulnerable.

It was expected that Howard Springs would be close to empty of travellers quarantining there at that point.

Anybody scheduled to board would have to return two negative results before stepping on the plane.

“This second wave is very bad, the logistics in India are very difficult, people are living in remote towns and villages and to get them safely to an airport is a very difficult undertaking. These are the real, practical consequences. There are thousands of people, many dying on the streets in India. So it’s going to be very complex,” Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

I imagine those Australians waiting to get on those flights were like, “Yeah no shit mate.”

There would only be one repatriation flight per week, previously to the travel ban there had been two a week from India.

But two weeeks was a long time for the virus to wreak havoc.

How many people would die waiting for a flight home in that time?

On May 6th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in India there had been 21,077,410 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 412,262.

A world record for daily new cases.

There had been 230,168 deaths with a daily increase of 3,980.

A new record of daily deaths in India too.

May 07

The next day the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the ban would end on May 15.

The original decision to put in place that biosecurity order until the 15th of May has proved very effective and it will run its full course until that time without any change,” Morrison said.

The challenge we have had with arrivals from India is the higher incidence of infections and the stress that was placing on the quarantine system,” he explained.

Australia's Scott Morrison stands by 'one country' remark on China and  Taiwan | The Japan Times

At one point the infection rate at Howard Springs was 15 per cent, much higher than the goal of two per cent causing concern for the quarantine system and potentially Darwin’s hospital system.

However now those numbers had halved and there was an expectation they could be close to zero by next weekend.

No decision had been made yet about commercial flights coming in from India.

Meanwhile the situation in India remained dire.

Positive test results for COVID were averaging about 20 per cent and plenty of people were not getting tested and dying from COVID.

The percentage fo the population that had been fully vaccinated was 2.2%.

More than 46,000 Red Cross staff and volunteers were helping in India.

In the capital city Kathmandu of neighbouring Nepal positve test results for COVID were up to 47 per cent. The country was in lockdown and its hospitals were stretched.

On May 7th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in India there had been 21,491,598 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 414,188.

The highest ever – 414,188.

The global total of new cases in the world that day was a little over double this with 853,895.

There had been 234,083 deaths with a daily increase of 3,915.

The next day would set a new record with 4,187 deaths. 

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 6, 2020

In Melbourne, there was an outbreak at the Cedar Meats abattoir leading to 62 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 DIARY – HEAVILY WEIGHED DECISIONS – PART I

May 03

Monday.

The vaccine rollout continued in Australia with vaccinations being opened up to the 2A Cohort. Anyone over 50 could now get the jab and the main jab available was the AstraZeneca one.

This had followed discussions at National Cabinet.

Politically it was commented that maybe with the vaccine rollout not going smoothly the Prime Minister had moved to more closely consult with state Premiers to achieve results and to also share any blame for failure to deliver.

Either way, with the decision to list Pfizer as the preferred jab for under 50s, the very rare examples of blood clotting being reported in media, and elements of the community that were fearful or against vaccinations – there was now a need to build momentum and confidence.

Sometimes I worry that people have become complacent over our good fortune here in Australia.

There are plenty of countries that avoided major outbreaks for some time before falling foul of the virus.

There was also talk about the need to open up borders and that would only be suitable once we got the majority of the population vaccinated.

So this was the next step and a step in the right direction.

Nearly 16 million doses would be part of 2A which was a cohort of six million Australians aged 50 to 69.

I knew that still not all of 1B had been completed which included people with disabilities and the staff at their centres.

Across the country people were lining up at vaccination hubs including people like the 53 year old recently re-elected Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan who rolled up his sleeve for the AstraZeneca jab.

In Melbourne there were waiting times for people who just rocked up on the day – some as long as two hours.

On Monday a new element to the India travel ban that had been announced on Saturday came into effect.

Any travellers who have been in India in the 14 days leading up to their date of arrival in Australia could face jail time of up to five years and a fine of up to $66,000.

The law appeared to be unprecedented and in some circles was labelled immoral and inhuman.

“It is incredibly disproportionate to the threat that is posed,” GP Dr Vyom Sharma told Weekend Breakfast.

Our families are quite literally dying in India overseas. Many people are trying to come back. We know that hundreds of people in this situation are classify as medically and financially vulnerable, to have absolutely no way of getting them out — this is abandonment,” he said.

A week previously the WA Premier Mark McGowan had said, “India is an epicentre of death and destruction as we speak.I don’t think there is any need to go to India, I don’t.

Epidemiologist Michael Toole, from the Burnet Institute cited a lack of confidence in hotel quarantine from the government.

By his count there had been 16 separate leaks from hotel quarantine in the past six months in five major capital cities.

We need to do that by ensuring that the ventilation in every hotel room is adequate and that staff wear the most appropriate protective equipment, including respiratory masks. That just hasn’t happened because we don’t have a national standard. Each state and territory is basically doing their own thing,” he cited as a possible solution.

As I said, we’ve seen in 16 times in the last 6 months. And if we don’t make any improvements, we can expect more than a dozen more breaches to occur in the section six months,” he told.

Hysterical and ruinous': Christmas Island furious over Australia's  coronavirus plans | Christmas Island | The Guardian

Opposition MP Jason Clare suggested Christmas Island as a solution as had been done a year earlier with people returning from China but notably that was previous to the Howard Springs facility being set up.

According to Education Minister Alan Tudge, the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory currently has an infection rate of 15 per cent, well above the goal of 2 per cent.

Fifty-seven per cent of the positive cases in quarantine had been arrivals from India. It was placing a very, very significant burden on health and medical services in states and territories,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dlsms4JhCCY

May 04

In the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday morning across Victoria’s 22 mass vaccination hubs there had been a record 6,923 doses administered.

As media spotlight ramped up on the travel ban, Prime Minister Scott Morrison when interviewed said, “I think it would be very remote circumstances that would see them imposed. I don’t want to see them necessarily imposed anywhere because I don’t want to see people breaching the rule. If everybody cooperates, then we can get things in a stronger position and that means we can start those repatriation flights again.

The Australian Medical Association had written a letter to the Prime Minister and Health Minister to remove the jail terms and fine amounts.

“To be clear, the AMA is supportive of the pause on flights so that our hotel quarantine system can be readied for the increased risk that we are clearly seeing now of Australians returning with the virus … from India,” AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“The government, in our view, should be doing everything in its power — chartering flights, using our Defence Force if necessary — to bring the most vulnerable of the Australians in India home. In the longer term there’s also the need to replace hotel quarantine with purpose-built facilities, and I’ve had a conversation with the Minister of Health expressing that view today, and the AMA will continue to fight for that.”

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 4, 2020

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Prep, Year 1, 11 and 12 would return to school next Monday May 11. For the other grades it was planned for them to remain remote learning with a return to classrooms May 25.