COVID-19 DIARY – UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

Global Covid report: Belgium facing new lockdown as Germany takes in  patients | Belgium | The Guardian

March 14

In New South Wales a hotel quarantine worker at the Sofitel Hotel tested positive to COVID.

What was noteworthy about the case is the man had already been vaccinated.

Although let’s unpack that a little.

The security guard received his first Pfizer jab on the 2nd of March.

When he tested after most recent shifts March 5th and 6th going into the early hours of the 7th he tested negative after those shifts.

When he returned to work on the Saturday he tested positive.

That’s one jab of Pfizer less than a week earlier when he most likely became infected and the Pfizer jabs works on a basis of two jabs three weeks apart with full effectiveness reached a week after the second jab.

[This is] obviously good news, but you should be aware the antibody reaction required from vaccination doesn’t get confirmed or doesn’t achieve its maximum [until] some time after the first and second vaccination,” noted New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

Add to this is the simple fact that medicos are advising particularly with the new strains, vaccinations don’t stop you from getting COVID they stop you from hopefully coming down with a severe case with it.

As we have said all along, vaccination helps but it does not necessarily stop you getting the virus,” Hazzard said.

COVID NSW: No new cases linked to Sofitel Wentworth hotel quarantine |  Daily Telegraph

While we are still learning how the vaccines impacted transmission, what we would hope for … is if you are vaccinated, you probably don’t have such a high viral load, you are protected against severe illness. Your viral load may well be lower and, therefore, it will potentially stop you transmitting it to the same degree. But a lot of this work is still being looked at and the science is being worked through as we literally speak.,” advised New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant.

[The vaccine is] very effective, but not 100 per cent effective” against mild and moderate disease, but it was almost 100 per cent effective against severe disease, hospitalisation and death,” said Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.

It’s why the measures we have in place will have a part to play in our daily lives for many a while yet.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison receiving his second shot advised, “You should still try to observe the COVID-safe behaviours — I’m wearing a mask today.

One hundred and thirty hotel quarantine workers who worked the same shift with the guard on Friday March 12th going into Saturday morning were getting tested and isolating.

Contract tracing was underway for the locations the guard had hit in between his negative and postive test results.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported there had been 136,000 people go through the 14 day hotel quarantine since March 2020.

There had been 5,048 cases in New South Wales during the pandemic.

This case ended a 65 day streak of no new locally acquired cases.

Queensland COVID outbreak sparks health officials to change vaccination  policy | 7NEWS.com.au

March 16

Speaking of second shots of Pfizer.

Tuesday in Queensland nurse Zoe Park the first receipent of a Pfizer jab in Queensland received her second shot three weeks later along with several other health care workers.

Channel 9 News Australia reported 22,000 of 37,000 health care workers that came under the 1A grouping had received their first shot.

New South Wales had vaccinated 37,000 in the same time period.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath advised the state government was on track to complete 1A vaccinations in a fortnight.

Good news given the PA case.

Four hundred close contacts had been identified from that case and were getting tested. About 58% had come back negative.

Tensions between state and federal government consultation were raised.

Last week I was told these trays weren’t going to be delivered but it’s arrived in the last hour. So its changing daily,” D;Ath advised.

There were no answers yet on what caused the outbreak at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

To our north there was growing concern of rising COVID numbers in Papua New Guinea.

Five hundred recent tests in the country had returned 250 positive results. Of 36 active cases of COVID in Queensland – 18 could be linked back to Papua New Guinea.

The Australian government moved to provide support to their neighbour with $500 million dollars worth of foreign aid.

On the 16th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 2,351 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 82. There had been 26 deaths.

Having only days earlier seen the first AstraZeneca vaccinations take place in Australia, European nations were suspending the roll out of the vaccine.

Italy, Germany and France, Cyprus and Slovenia along suspended its use pending assessment from the European Medicines Agency which were meeting on Thursday.

Spain had suspended use for two weeks.

Earlier Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Austria, Latvia, Sweden, Romania and Bulgaria had stopped using it too.

The side effects cited included blood clots, there had been deaths following vaccinations.

The language of the national leaders struck a tone of precaution but indicated they expected the measure was temporary.

Hospitals in Paris were almost beyond capacity, Italy was in lockdown and there was already a supply issue of getting enough vaccines across Europe that suspending the use of AstraZeneca excaberated.

“As of today, there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said.

The European Medicines Agency reported as of March 10, 30 cases of blood clotting had been reported from 5 million Astra Zeneca vaccinations across 30 European countries.

Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon. More than 11 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca have now been administered across the UK, and the number of blood clots reported after having the vaccine is not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population.” said Dr Phil Bryan who was head of vaccine safety at the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

AstraZeneca itself reported out of 17 million vaccinations, 15 events of deep vein thrombosis and 22 evetns of pulomonary embolism.

Germany: Clashes erupt as parliament votes on COVID rules | Coronavirus  pandemic News | Al Jazeera

March 18

Professor Anthony Harnden who was deputy chair of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) had some strong words regarding the suspension of AstraZeneca.

You cannot stop and start vaccination programs without losing some public confidence,” he told the ABC.

There will be many, many people in Europe, [who] feel now that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is second best … which is patently untrue. I have no doubt that Europeans have died because of some of these decisions. They have large portions of their vulnerable elderly population unprotected because of an incorrect decision that they made about delaying the AstraZeneca dose in the elderly population. It’s going to affect us all, ultimately, if we have a huge amount of transmission and infection within Europe.,” he said.

There were significant national politics at play here.

Britain had recently left the European Union.

Case numbers were down in the UK while rising on the continent with the dominant strain now being… you guessed it – the UK strain.

Certain poorer European countries were going to need to use AstraZeneca while a country like Italy for example was mostly vaccinating with Pfizer.

Even so the vaccine rollout in Europe had been going slower than in the UK.

In Britain 39 out of every 100 people had been vaccinated compared to 11 out of every 100 in France, Germany and Italy.

For example Italy had been averaging 200,000 vaccinations per day before the suspension, it needed to double that to get to 80 per cent of its population vaccinated by September this year.

While Pfizer/BioNTech was a Belgium-American collaboration. The Oxford-AstraZeneca jab was a British-Swiss collaboration.

East Europe hit with new COVID-19 wave as Polish, Bulgarian leaders test  positive - Global Times

March 19

The European Medicines Agency report came out and its four main findings were the benefits of getting a vaccine far outweighed the risk of side effects, there is no associated increased risk between the jab and blood clots, no problem with batches or manufacturing but the vaccine may be associated with very rare cases of blood clots.

Following this out of the 13 countries that suspended the use of AstraZeneca, Italy, France and Germany advised they would resume its use.

Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands said they would start using it again next week.

Poland had never stopped.

The Oxford jab is safe and the Pfizer jab is safe. The thing that isn’t safe is catching COVID, which is why it’s so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes,” Great Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised in a press conference where he announced he would get vaccinated tomorrow at the very hospital where he had been treated for COVID-19.

March 20

France and the UK’s Prime Ministers and Slovenia’s President rolled up their sleeves for the AstraZeneca jab to help in restoring confidence in the vaccine following the suspension of its use in Europe.

France was back in lockdown.

Bulgaria had resumed AstraZeneca vaccination, out of a population of seven million only 355,000 of its people had been vaccinated – the lowest number in the European Union.

Places like Hungary and Bosnia were also going into lockdown as case numbers surged. The former had one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe.

On the 20th of March the World Health Organisation reported there had been 122,039,807 confirmed cases globally with a daily incrase of 552,244.

There had been 2,697,760 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 10,509.

In Iceland there had been 6,097 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 29 deaths.

In Australia there had been 29,183 with a daily increase of 17. There had been 909 deaths.

In Cyprus there had been 41,475 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 364. There had been 241 deaths.

In Ireland there had been 229,306 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 510. There had been 4,576 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Latvia there had been 96,524 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 622. There had been 1,811 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Denmark there had been 221,455 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 638. There had been 2,397 deaths.

In Slovenia there had been 204,534 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 941. There had been 4,276 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Norway there had been 84,553 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,034. There had been 648 deaths.

Bosnian returnees face delays, confusion over COVID-19 quarantine |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

In Bosnia and Herzegovina there had been 151,337 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,446. There had been 5,773 deaths with a dialy increase of 44.

In Austria there had been 504,693 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,306. There had been 8,795 deaths with a daily increase of 25.

In Canada there had been 922,848 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,609. There had been 22,590 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

In Bulgaria there had been 299,939 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,162. There had been 11,932 deaths with a daily increase of 115.

Coronavirus Manchester: How life will change under Tier 3 lockdown - Sound  Health and Lasting Wealth

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,284,547 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,458. THere had been 126,026 deaths with a daily increase of 100.

In Romania there had been 886,752 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,593. THere had been 22,020 deaths with a daily increase of 143.

In Sweden there had been 744,171 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,740. There had been 13,387 deaths with a daily increase of 18.

In the Netherlands there had been 1,186,425 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,355. There had been 16,238 deaths with a daily increase of 45.

In Hungary there had been 560,971 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,132. There had been 18,068 deaths with a daily increase of 227.

In Germany there had been 2,645,783 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,033. There had been 74,565 deaths with a daily increase of 207.

In Italy there had been 3,332,418 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 25,707. There had been 104,241 deaths with a daily increase of 386.

France Covid-19: Paris compulsory face-mask rule comes into force - BBC News

In France there had been 4,146,171 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 35,066. There had been 91,429 deaths with a daily increase of 267.

In India there had been 11,555,284 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 40,953. There had been 159,558 deaths with a daily increase of 188.

In the United States of America there had been 29,376,388 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 58,826. There had been 534,484 deaths with a daily increase of 1,513.

Most of Europe was not only experiencing surging case numbers but as bad as any their country had ever seen this past winter.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 19, 2020.

Italy overtook China with the most recorded deaths from COVID with 41,035 confirmed cases and a daily increase of 5,322. The death toll was 3,407 with a daily increase of 429.

In Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison annonced there all foreign travellers would be banned from entering the country.

Tasmania became the first Australian state to close its borders.

The Ruby Princess crusie ship disembarked 2,700 passengers in Sydney.

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL ON ROLL UP – PART IV

Ladakh to Kerala, vaccine rollout begins | India News,The Indian Express

February 28

On Sunday 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Western Sydney from Europe.

CSL Limited was going to produce 50 million doses of the vaccine locally and starting from late March the hope was for them to produce 1 million doses a week.

The hope was to have the whole population vaccinated by October. Of course I am writing this from a later date that saw has seen a dramatic change to those projections but at the time there was great hope in these new arriving and administered vaccines.

On Sunday news came that the U.S. had approved the previously covered Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Vaccines were being dispersed throughout the world but the race was on.

Six billion people to be vaccinated or at least enough to reach herd immunity.

To stop the virus from continuing to mutate.

To stop one more person dying that could have been saved.

Logistically there was nothing like it. It was the greatest undertaking we had ever undertaken. Against the greatest crisis of our lifetimes.

The Indian government was racing to get an inital 300 million it most at risk vaccinated like police, defence, teachers, sanitation workers and health care staff. The next phase was to include people over 60 and those younger with underlying health care conditions. The vaccines being administered were AstraZeneca and the Indian produced Covaxin which had been rushed into service before trials were completed. The government aimed to reach a goal of 5 million jabs administered daily.

The Australian Broadcasting News reported on the recent uptick in cases in India following a lull. They cited a report that showed over half of New Delhi residents had developed COVID anti-bodies meaning so many people had caught COVID that the population was nearing achieiving herd immunity. To say nothing of the high amount of deaths. Worse yet that immunity would not protect against new variants in the community.

India was about to expereince a crashing second wave.

Their vaccine roll out continued in earnest.

On the 28th of February the World Health Organisation reported there had been 113,443,826 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 401,933.

There had been 2,525,729 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 8,582.

In Australia there had been 28,965 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 861,472 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,255. There had been 21,915 deaths with a daily increase of 50.

In the United Kindgom there had been 4,173,691 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,567. There had been 122,705 deaths with a daily increase of 290.

In India there had been 11,096,731 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,752. There had been 157,051 deaths with a daily increase of 113.

India had reached 11 million cases on the 22nd of February with 11,005,850.

Brazil had reached 10 million cases on the 20th of February with 10,030,626. Only three countries had reported 10 million or more cases. The South American nation had also reached 243,457 deaths the same day.

On the 28th of February in the United States of America there had been 28,174,978 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 72,812. There had been 506,760 deaths with a daily increase of 2,106.

-Lloyd Marken

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

Timeline: How the US reached 500,000 COVID-19 deaths | Coronavirus pandemic  News | Al Jazeera

February 23

Tuesday.

Jobkeeper was set to end shortly and Jobseeker that had seen a double of payments for those on benefits at the beginning of the pandemic was going back to the original amount but would see an increase of $25 per week. Recipient obligations were due to increase too. The number of people getting support has decreased and this was seen as a way to hopefully manage this latest transition with minimal harm to the economy. Also with less people on the dole it would be easier to play hard ball with them now.

Same old song.

The increase came at a cost of $9billion dollars to the government. That gave someone on the dole $4 extra a day.

On the second day of the Pfizer vaccine roll-out in Australia with 1,200 jabs adminitered the hope was to have 30,000 completed by end of the week.

When interviewed on Channel 9 Australia, Infection Disease physician Professor Sanjaya Senanayake noted, ” The reality is if we want to get 75% of the population vaccinated by end of October we’ll need to do a lot more than that. Probably about a 150,000 people per day but I think it is very reasonable to start slowly and ramp up and iron out any wrinkles.

He also suspected around mid year the Novavax vaccine may become available too. The interview highlighted that the vaccine rollout was highly ambitious in comparison to what had been achieved so far overseas.

In the United States of America over half a million American lives had been lost to COVID.

The loss of life figure equivalent to the loss of life experienced during September 11, 2001 being repeated every day over a six month period.

The U.S. had reached more than 400,000 lives lost barely more than a month earlier.

President Joe Biden remembered the fallen.

February 24

In New South Wales there were further easing of restrictions including having 30 people on the dance floor come Friday rather than just the bridal party.

Fifrty visitors can vistir your home, larger numebrs in churches, cinemas and gyms.

Standing up and have a beer in the pub come March 17 too which was St Patrick’s Day.

More than 3,000 people had been vaccinated in the past 48 hours in the state.

Closer to home in the first week of administering vaccinations to the elderly two aged care residents in Carseldine, Brisbane recieved four times the prescribed dose by a doctor who had not yet completed his online COVID vaccination training.

The Doctor working for Healthcare Australia took too many doses out of the six dose Pfizer vial.

Fortunately the Healthcare Australia nurse working with him identified his mistake.

Despite this he administered a second dose before she raised the alarm again and this time he ceased.

The doctor was stood down by Healthcare Australia and referred to the industry regulator.

Those who received the dose were an 88 year old woman and a 94 year old woman who were rushed to hospital for close observation.

Such a bungle so early on in the vaccine roll out in the country was not the best for growing confidence in the general public to get vaccinated.

Media was already reporting that the vaccine was not being delivered to aged care homes as scheduled which already suggested targets would not be reached.

Having contracted the job out to Healthcare Australia and Aspen Medical the Federal Government was looking to structure their re-election campaign on successfully delivering the vaccine throughout the country but media attention was shifting to a horrifying alleged rape scandal in Parliament House and further allegations were to follow.

The future of the Morrison government rests of getting the vaccine rollout right,” said Channel 9 political editor Chris Uhlmann.

February 25

Jobkeeper was due to end, at the height of the pandemic it kept 3.6 million Australian employed now that number was down to 960,000.

As we neared the 12 month mark of COVID taking off in Australia the roll back of the increased JobSeeker payments (with a $4 a day increase from pre-Covid rates) and the cessation of Jobkeeper was to slow government spending and reflect ongoing economic activity.

There was no doubt anxiety being felt by those affected particarly businesses and employees that had been kept going by these initiatives.

There were different ideas being put forward for specialised industry support.

Following the bungle in Carseldine, the CEO Of Healthcare Australia stood down. Scheduled vaccinations across Sydney were cancelled. The aged care residents who received the overdose of the vaccine were continuing to cover in the Prince Charles Hospital. Thank goodness for the quick and brave actions of the Healthcare Australia nurse who stopped further overdoses being administered.

When interviewed, Prime Minister Scott Morrison offerred, “This is an enormous vaccination that we are doing across the country as we said. It is unprecedented in scale and scope and the people working on this are the best in the world.

In other news as Qantas looked to return to international travel in October they posted a 1.1 billion dollar loss in the first half of the current financial year.

In Ghana the first delivery of COVID vaccines from the UN backed COVAX initiative arrived in the African nation. 600,000 free doses of the AztraZeneca jab arrived free of charge for use.

On the 25th of February, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been in Ghana 81,245 confirmed cases. There had been 584 deaths reported in the West African nation of 30 million.

In the United States the Johnson and Johnson vaccine got closer to being approved for emergency use by the Food and Drugs Administration.

As a side note I was at the Prince Charles Hospital for a medical appointment. I had been to the hospital during COVID we went past a sign about signing in.

My wife started signing in like we often did when going to venues, she seemed faster. I wasn’t even sure if we were in the right building.

I came to a desk and was asked by a nurse if I had signed in and advised that my wife was doing it but I was told I had to do it.

In the confusion another nurse came by and started asking me questions.

I asked the first nurse if I could sign in and was told no so advised I would go back to the sign and use the app.

When I came back the second nurse was asking why Karen was wearing a mask. Because we were in a hospital we explained as a precaution for the safety of our health care workers.

The nurse explained it wasn’t a requirement of health guidelines at the moment as if it had raised her suspicions.

I explained we were just trying to be helpful. Later we walked past very elderly volunteers offering assistance in the hospital corridors.

The kind of people I was thinking about when I wore a mask when health guidelines said I did not have to.

In a few days no hospital staff would think twice of a visitor wearing a mask. Besides staff were wearing masks.

February 27

While the federal government had its setbacks with the aged care roll out of the vaccine, the New South Wales government planned to go bush starting March 15 with major hubs set up in Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Newcastle, Wagga Wagga and Woollongong to administer the vaccine across 99 satelittle sites to health and border workers before GPS would administer to the local populace.

The state government had administered 10,000 jabs during the week.

As New South Wales reached another milestone, having administered 5 million tests for COVID since the pandemic hit the state.

In the United States of America there was good news after a long deadly winter that had claimed too many lives while a President formented anarchy rather than spared one thought on how to save lives.

Having reached half a million deaths earlier in the week,  there was now hope to be found in lower case numbers, hospitalisations and daily deaths reported.

A third vaccine loomed on the horizon for use from Johnson and Johnson who promised they could deliver 17 million doses by the end of March and 100 million by the end of March.

The drug was one shot and did not require refrigeration and carried a 72% efficiacy rate.

Pfizer and Moderna between the two of them were promising 220 million doses by the end of March. Enough to have 110 million American vaccinated.

The two companies were also working on vaccines to prove effective against variants.

It was noted on Planet America that countries with 14% of the world’s population accounted for 53% of of orders from the Top 8 vaccines including all of Moderna’s production for 2021 and 96% of Pfizers.

Programs like COVAX and the advice of Boris Johnson at the G7 summit only rang more true in light of this.

We’re only going to get through this if we do it together.

Despite the lower efficiacy rate, the J&J vaccine also had milder side effects, is cheaper and has a billion dollar doses to come in 2021. Johnson and Johnson was shaping up to be the vaccine that would be delivered throught the third world.

-Lloyd Marken

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

Australia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout: International travel, vaccine  passports and who we trust to deliver the jab - ABC News

February 17

The vaccine rollout began in earnest in Australia.

Come next Monday the first Pfizer jabs in Queensland would hit 100 frontline healthcare worker arms.

The plan was to have all healthcare workers and all people over 70 over the next two months hitting up hospitals and aged health care workers.

The aim was to have people over 18 to have received a vaccine by the end of October.

There’s so much riding on this and whether it all goes to plan depends on Canberra delivering vaccines and enough of them on times,” said Channel 9 State Political Editor Lane Calcutt.

These words would only resonate more in the weeks to come.

February 19

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged at the online G7 Summit that the whole world must be vaccinated not just individual nations.

He pledged to donate the majority of the UK’s surplus vaccines to poorer nations.

WIth 400 million doses on order, the UK had enough to vaccinate its population three times.

While the vaccine roll out continued in Great Britain though he would not set a date for when the surplus vaccines would start be delivered elsewhere.

There is no point in us vaccinating our individual populations – we’ve got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic and it’s no use one country being far ahead of another, we’ve got to move together,” Johnson said.

“So one of the things that I know that colleagues will be wanting to do is to ensure that we distribute vaccines at cost around the world – make sure everybody gets the vaccines that they need so that the whole world can come through this pandemic together.”

Great Britain’s leader also pushed for more funding of Covax, a multilateral vaccine supply scheme led by several international agencies including the World Health Organisation.  The world leaders issued a joint statement afterwards agreeing to “intensify co-operation.” This included more sharing of information about new variants, accelerating vaccine development and dispersal and 7.5 billion US dollars spent in aid fo Covax.

Why we need to share vaccine doses now and why COVAX is the right way to do  it - News | Wellcome

They committed to accelerating global vaccine development and deployment, including improving the sharing of information about the discovery of new variants, and cited 7.5 billion US dollars (£5.3 billion) of support coming from the G7 for the body behind Covax.

I had to say I couldn’t agree more, in the race to vaccinate more lives would be saved if we could clamp this thing down across the world to avoid new variants. Whether this would be possible logisitically was a big questions. And politically with cases numbers still very high in Europe, North America and South America. If these same nations were first in the queue for delively of vacinnes there was going to be huge politcal and even moral obligations to see that they do everything in the power to avoid a second winter next year proving as deadly as this current one had been.

Vaccine rollout finally gets underway | Western Advocate | Bathurst, NSW

February 21

Sunday and the first COVID vaccines were given in my country.

They included the Austalian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and Australia’s Chief Nurse but first up was 84 year old Jane Malysiak.

Born in Poland, as a child she had grown up in war torn Europe. She later immigrated to Australia and ran a corner shop in Sydney with her husband.

I didn’t expect such a lot of people, I just thought they’d do the jab and take two pictures. Aussie is my country now,” Malysiak said.

In true Australian fashion when it came time to pose for the camera, Malysiak proved a little unorthodox. The Prime Minister by her side asked for her to shoot a V for vacinne sigh with her hands echoing Churchill’s V for Victory gesture during the dark days of World War II. Which she did but with the back of her hand facing camera which is a gesture that can mean something else.

There is a little part of me that likes to think the elderley nurisng home resident knew exactly what she was doing when she made the gesture and wanted to see how people would react. Either way it proved delightful and memorable on her part.

Jane Malysiak has seen many historic days in Australia over the course of her more than 80 years of life. To have her here, and so many others have joined us — this is an historic day for Australia,” said the Prime Minister.

There were other nurisng home residents in the group to receive the first vaccines in Australia but also Corporal Boyd Chatillon, a team leader of Quarantine Compliance Monitoring program in Sydney hotels and Alysha Eyre and Jon Buttenshaw from Australia Border Force.

A group of people standing and sitting in a room

Starting Monday there would 16 vaccination hubs across Australia to dispense jabs to frontline health care workers, quarantine staff and border forces.

Three of those sixteen hubs would be in Queensland at the Cairns Hospital, Gold Coast University Hospital and the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

There would be 240 centres set up to deliver to aged care in Australia too.

Every day that goes past from here gets more normal,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

The plan was for the roll-out to increase as local production of Aztra-Zeneca ramped up in late March.

200 million doses had been dispensed around the world already. Now Australia would be dispensing the vaccine to its populace too.

On the 21st of February, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 110,758,037 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 378,953.

There had been 2,461,184 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,457.

In Australia there had been 28,920 confirmed cases with a daily increase of two. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 840,586 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,089. There had been 21,576 deaths with a daily increase of 78.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,114,371 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 10,376. There had been 120,365 deaths with a daily increase of 445.

In India there had been 10,991,651 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14,264. There had been 156,302 deaths with a daily increase of 90.

In the United States of America there had been 27,702,074 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 73,240. There had been 491,894 deaths with a daily increase of 2,543.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THAT RAGGED OLD FLAG

February 11

At the same time I counted down the days until my trip to Sydney to attend a friends wedding, the second impeachment trial of Ballbag got under way.

I don’t know what to tell you that hasn’t already been said.

Ballbag was unique to me in the way he would talk, the actions he would take, the incompetence and laziness he displayed. The hypocrisy. The arrogance. The complete disregard for human life.

As a swing vote who believes that we are all nuanced in our ideologies and no politician is worth are unquestionable loyalty. That consensus is how we build good works.

Ballbag infuriated me in a way that I cannot deny.

And yet his supporters keep the faith and despite his unprecedented shames he holds the base of the Republican party.

So its’ worth remembering some of the information that came to light in the impeachment about the attack on the Capitol.

How well organised the rioters were, how terrifying it must have been for the police and staffers that were there on the day.

Republicans too were literally were under siege that day, some of them feared for their life and days later they have said, “The country needs to move on.”

Well no one is moving on to a better place while shit like this is acceptable in America.

Fortunatley there are Republicans like Congressman Adam Kinzinger who stand in stark contrast to so many of their cowardly peers like Mitch McConnell or Ted Cruz.

On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation‘s show Planet America there was Trump’s former impeachment lawyer Alan Dershowitza made a compelling arguement legally for why the Impeachment should not succeed.

I will always feel that it shouldn’t have come to this.

That the Republican party should have demanded his resignation. That his Cabinet led by Vice President Mike Pence shoudl have forced it. That it wouldn’t have even required courage on their part because the American people would have demanded it from them.

As always I felt the great comedian Dave Chappelle had an uncanny knack for summing up the current situatuion.

In the wake of the Democrats winning the Senate with two election wins in Georgia state authorites changed the law.

On the 25th of March Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a restriction on voting rights.

There was a new ID requriement for those voting by mail mail and tighter deadlines for mail ballots. It restricted mail ballot drop boxes and allowed the sate to takeover over election administration from county election board if it deemed it necessary. The Presidential election showed certain pockets of a state will go one way over another and tip the balance. 

This followed the defunding of the postal service the previous year in the lead up to the election during a pandemic across the country and stock standard tactics like having less amount of voting centres in certain areas.

Stop the steal indeed.

Fifty five years after President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act the struggle continues.

I don’t pretend to have the answers but making it so that every American votes in every election might be a good place to start.

As for the impeachement, I didn’t hold my breath and when I heard the news I was sadly not surprised.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE CLEARING OF LAFAYETTE PARK

A Walk Meant to Convey Grit Evokes Trump's Dark Side Instead - The ...

June 1

Over the weekend protests and riots had spread across America at one point Trump was taken to an underground bunker at the White House.

As chaos reigned on the streets the American President sought to reclaim them by force if necessary.

America has a long standing history of riots followed by the National Guard being called out. The National Guard is also called out in times of great crisis to search for missing persons, clear towns devastated by natural disasters and provide security when the Emergency Services are no longer enough to quell unrest.

For Trump the call out of 5,000 National Guard troops across 15 states on the 31st of May was not nearly enough. He started talking about the use of full time military.

On Monday before the curfew set in Washington it was announced that Trump was going to hold a press conference.

Police on site started pushing back protestors to increase the perimeter around the White House. Channel 9 Australian reporter Amelia Adams was on site braving rubber bullets, chemical irritants and fired up protesters.

Ms Adams was there and reported at different times that the more peaceful elements of the protest had gone home in lieu of the curfew and then at other times that bad elements were there and at other times the better elements were still present. The footage showed emotions were high but also that the protestors for the most part were urging calm.

The footage nonetheless shows on the ground shepherding of the crowd away from the White House in a show of force. It was later clarified that tear gas was not used but more pepper spray. For protestors suffering the effects the distinction held no relevance. The canisters were also shown to be thrown back by some protestors and it appears to me that firecrackers may have been dispersed by them as well along the ground.

 

Channel 7 U.S. correspondent Amelia Brace was there too with her cameraman Tim Myers who were assaulted by police clearing the area and struck by rubber bullets.

“A police officer’s face came around that corner and just really went for us and I was screaming ‘Media! Media! Media!’ because, obviously, the media is not meant to be getting caught up in this — we’re not meant to be getting targeted,” the Sunshine Coast local told the ABC.

“And despite that as I ran away, clearly stating that we were media, with my cameraman with a camera on his shoulders, I was hit across the back with the baton.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker cited 100 incidents involving journalists including 20 arrests and 60 assaults over recent days covering the protests across the country.

 

 

Once the crowd was cleared Trump strutted out with his Secret Service and held The Bible up in front of St John’s Church.

The rioting and protesting is distressing for many, myself included. It is natural to want to protest for social justice, to get off your ass and to actually stand for something.

When the protests turn into riots it is also natural for people to want to see law and order restored.

As reporters are assaulted, police and protestors are killed, businesses are torched there are no clear answers. Trump’s call to put down rioters and make the streets safe to walk again appeal to some. A show of force is part of that.

Yet for many – leaders don’t divide, they pull us together, they acknowledge wounds that need to be healed and they don’t make it about them.

 

Lieutenant Gen. James N. Mattis, Commanding General, U.S. Marine ...

 

June 3

On the second of June, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sporting a COVID beard was asked to comment about the scenes in Washington he took a 21 second pause before answering “We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States. It is a time to pull people together, but it is a time to listen.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech at Philadelphia’s City Hall on the 3rd of June about Trump holding up The Good Book  “if he opened it instead of brandishing it, he could have learned something.

“The President of the United States should be part of the solution – not part of the problem.”

Gathering far more press coverage and proving far more damning were comments made by General Mattis in a statement that was published in the Atlantic magazine.

General Mattis had served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1969 to 2013. His last command was U.S. Central Command. He joined the U.S. Marine Reserves during the Vietnam War and earned his commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps while completing a Bachelor of Arts at Central Washington University. He went to war for the first time as a full bird Colonel in the Persian Gulf. He was a General during operational service in Afghanistan and Iraq which included the Battle of Fallujah. Persistently apolitical, he was known for being well read and a blunt talker.

Trump hired him as Secretary of Defense upon winning the election in 2016 and unlike most of those hires General Mattis was still around two years later. As disagreements between the two grew General Mattis eventually resigned and in response Trump sped up the end of his tenure. Mattis never discussed their disagreements and never publicly criticised President Trump.

Until the 3rd of June 2020.

In the Atlantic he wrote, “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander in chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.

David Lauter on the 5th of June wrote in the L.A. Times that Trump’s act “appears to have been a fateful miscalculation.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 3rd of June that in the United States of America there had been 1,798,330 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14,692.

The number of dead Americans due to COVID-19, 105,008 with a daily increase of 761.

-Lloyd Marken