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

April 10

Vaccinations were rolling out across regional communities in Queensland including up in the far north where we were bordered with Papua New Guinea.

April 11

Sunday.

On the 11th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 135,097,616 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 754692.

There had been 2,921,503 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 11,974.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 8,442 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 100. There had been 68 deaths.

In Australia there had been 29,396 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 1,045,278 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,255. Two days later the country would set a new record of daily new cases with 9,936. There had been 23,251 deaths with a daily increase of 40.

May 4, 2020 still remained the date where the highest number of deaths had been reported with 235.

During the second wave 210 deaths had been reported on January 9th, 2021. The highest number of daily deaths in that wave.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,368,049 with a daily increase of 845. There had been 127,080 with a daily increase of 40.

In India there had been 13,358,805 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 152,879. There had been 169,275 deaths with a daily increase of 839.

The highest number of new daily cases during the first wave in India had been 97,894 on the 17th of September, 2020. The numbers were well beyond that now.

That record got broken on the 5th of April, 2021 with 103,558 new daily cases.

April 7th a new record again with 115,736 new cases.

April 8th – 126,789.

April 9th – 131,968.

April 10th – 145,384.

And a new record again on the 11th of April with 152,879 with no end in sight.

In Brazil there had been 13,373,174 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 93,317. There had been 348,718 deaths with a daily increase of 3,693. The day had seen their highest recorded amount of daily deaths with 4,249.

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In the United States of America there had been 30,772,857 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 80,631. Way too high as it appeared America was rising slightly in daily average of new cases. There had been 555,712 deaths with a daily increase of 929.

April 13

A report on the Channel 10 program The Project covered that the Australian government was not intending to purchase the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as it was same type of vaccine as the AztraZeneca vaccine which we were manufacturing in Melbourne at CSL Limited.

We remained reliant on delivery of the PfizerBioNTech vaccine for the majority of those under 50s going forward and had used it for the bulk of our frontline workers in healthcare and hospitality already.

So why weren’t were we manufacturing Pfizer here?

Well that was because the PfizerBioNTech vaccine was an MRNA vaccine that we didn’t have the current capability to build.

However The Project report argued with proper funding we could have such a capacity maybe in 12 months.

A year seems a long time away and facility building always seem to suffer delays but such an investment could pay off down the line in the future.

Given what had transpired in the past year and the need to give ourselves more options in the fight to overcome COVID it seemed like a compelling idea worth a further look.

April 14

In the United States of America the government hit pause in the use of new Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“This announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan: Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 per cent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date,” Mr White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said.

As of April 12th there had been 6.8 million shots of the jab administered in the country.

Less than 5 per cent of all vaccinations in the country with Pfizer and Moderna accounting 180 million doses delivered.

Out of the 6.8million Johnson & Johnson shots there had been 6 cases of blood clots and so far no deaths.

The six cases involved all women aged 18 to 48 and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after they received their shot.

The Australian government had made a decision earlier in the week to not place orders for the vaccine. Having 170 million AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Novavax vials in the pipeline.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine: Here's what to know - ABC News

This is a really rare event, there have been six out of the 6.58 millions doses, this is less than one in a million, so this (pause) is out of an abundance of caution.,” advised Dr Fauci.

People are asking me if they should cancel their Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointments and I have told them not to but I know many will and this will stall progress in controlling the pandemic,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at St John Hopkins said.

Johnson & Johnson announced it would also delay its rollout of the vaccine in Europe.

The British/Swiss Oxford AstraZeneca, the American Johnson & Johnson, the Chinese CanSino Biological and the Russsian Sputnik V vaccine were all adenovirus vector vaccine. A “cold” virus that instructs our cells to produce a spike protein found on the surface of the virus.

When your body begins producing the harmless spike protein, your immune system reacts and learns how to fight the real thing.

The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines use mRNA technology. Those are harder to manufacture and have to be kept in freezing temperatures as opposed to simple refrigeration.

Twenty million of the Johnson & Johnson doses had been delivered to America, they had just started getting the first of what was planned to be 75 million doses by the end of June and 120 million by end of September.

Three hundred thousand vaccinations had been given in South Africa.

Four hundred million doses were scheduled to go to the Africa bloc.

Remember how I said this would be the vaccine given to the third world because it was a one shot jab that doesn’t require refrigeration?

GSK to manufacture 60 million doses of Novavax vaccine for the UK

As America hit pause on Johnson & Johnson and Australia demurred the vaccine, the spotlight turned to Novavax a little in my country.

With Pfizer as the preferred vaccine for under 50s, the bulk of which was scheduled to come in the final quarter of 2021 – Australia’s third vaccine became of greater importance.

Fifty one million doses to come sometime in mid-2021 but when could be anywhere from July to September now following supply shortages.

“When you start producing [vaccines] at a scale of millions and millions and millions, I mean, small scale is fine, but whenever manufacturing is required at that scale, there will always be a challenge. Whether that be the packaging or the supply chain.” QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute’s Professor Rajiv Khanna said.

The American produced Novavax worked in a similar way to the adenovirus vaccines but used the same spike protein as the virus.

The protein is then collected, concentrated, purified and mixed with other chemicals to make sure the body’s immune system mounts a strong response.

Trials in Great Britain with 15,000 people resulted in an efficacy rate of 89.3 per cent.
Pfizer had a efficacy rate of 95%, Moderna at 94.1%, the efficacy of AstraZeneca had a wider range of results from 62 to 90 per cent. A recent study published in The Lancet showed a twelve week wait between doses which was becoming the norm in places like the UK and Australia showed 82 per cent.
Trials in South Africa up against the South African variant had the rate go down to as low as 49.4 per cent.
While we weren’t taking up Johnson & Johnson for the moment and Novavax was our third and currently last option, the vaccine was likely to be approved for other countries (many invested in its development) before Australia.

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April 15

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was working on a scheme people returning from trips overseas quarantining at home. If they had been vaccinated. This would be for initial essential overseas travel like business deals, medical procedures and family funerals.

Vaccinations had also taken a dip following the government’s announcement last Thursday night.

The Prime Minister also announced an intention to have the 16 million Australians under 50 receive their first and second Pfizer doses through October to December 2021 using mass vaccination sites but who would man them was raised in response.

That would require 230,000 vaccinations a day.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 11, 2020

The United States of America overtakes Italy as the country with the highest number of deaths due to COVID-19.

April 12, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is released from hospital having survived COVID-19 thanks to the dedicated NHS staff who saw him through intensive care.

April 13, 2020 

CBS Reporter Paula Reid took it to Ballbag in a press conference after he had consistently behaved in an appalling manner for several week offering no correct and consistent messaging and seemed more invested in belittling reporters rather than answering really simple questions. This time he couldn’t even manage that. 

April 15, 2020

Term 2 started for schools around Australia with most states opting for remote learning where students were not children of essential workers.

In Potters Field on Hart Island in the Bronx. They buried the dead.

COVID-19 DIARY – REMEMBERING THE MANY AND THE FEW

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March 22

I saw my GP on Monday the 22nd of March. As we discussing a few recent things to do with my health she mentioned my COVID vaccination.

I advised I was too young but she told me I would come under 1B for an underlying health condition. I asked if she was sure and she was.

I guess I had thought about it but often saw it as something to come down the line.

She told me to keep checking the website, no vaccines were availble at my medical centre yet but they would be soon as part of the 1B roll out.

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March 23

I checked with my specialist who treated me for the underlying health condition which was well under control and he gave me the green light for to get the COVID vaccination.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the third wave currently going through Europe would come to the UK.

I’ve talked to our (European) friends repeatedly over the period – we’re all facing the same pandemic, we all have the same problems.” the Prime  Minister said.

If there is one thing that is worth stressing is that on the continent right now you can see sadly there is a third wave under way. People in this country should be under no illusions that previous experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, it washes up on our shores as well. I expect that we will feel those effects in due course.

That’s why we’re getting on with our vaccination programme as fast as we can but a vaccination campaign and developing vaccines, rolling them out – these are international projects and they require international co-operation.” said Johnson and I wholeheartedly agree.

Recently case numbers were on the rise and restrictions were coming into place across the continent. Recently several nations had suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Now the President of the European Commission had floated the idea of blocking drugs being exported to the UK which had vaccinated much more of their population.

Throughout most of 2020 the UK had been per capita one of the highest case number and deaths nationally across the globe.

I’m reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months that they don’t want to see blockades, I think that’s very important.” the UK Prime Minister advised.

London Ambulance Service joined a minute's silence to remember those who  lost their lives during the pandemic - Harrow Online

March 24

In Britain they paused on the anniversary of their first lockdown and remembered 126,000 of their fellow countrymen and women ahd had passed away in the past year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson who lesser measures at a slower pace than Australia and New Zealand and even many other European nations allowed, “There are probably many things that we wished that we’d known and probably many things that we’d done differently at the time.

Cautiously but irreversibly, step by step, jab by jab – this country is on the path to reclaiming our freedom,” said the Prime Minister.

Looking at the assembled nurses and ambos and doctors standing in reflection and remembrance of those who were lost.

How many of those deaths had they personally witnessed?

How many lives had they saved?

Had they seen any colleagues fall?

These were our heroes of a battle that still raged on and here they were still standing.

For us.

March 25

The first 800,000 of the locally made AstraZeneca jabs rolled out from CSL. The hope was to produce a million jabs and distribute them per week. This came in the wake of the short suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe having ended a week earlier.

It has to be said it was a great sight to see, the CSL plant was ready to run red hot in getting as many vaccines as possible produced and out in the community or wherever it was needed given a recent break out of cases in Papua New Guinea.

A lot of hard work had already been done to reach this point.

In India cases were on the rise and discovery of new mutant strains. There was a pause of Indian produced AstraZeneca vaccine which could cause problems of getting vaccines to Great Britain and Brazil and countries that would be served through the COVAX scheme.

India itself was looking to ramp up its vaccination scheme with people over 45 to get the jab next month.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 22, 2020. 

Following a National Cabinet meeting with state Premiers the Prime Minister announced all indoor entertainment, sporting and religious venues were to be shut from midday the next day. This included pubs, clubs and restaurants and cinemas.

With an expected rise in unemployment dole payments were going to be doubled.

The World Health Organisation reported on March 22 that Australia had 1,098 cases with a daily increase of 17. The death toll was seven.

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

Timeline for Townsville's first COVID-19 vaccinations revealed | Townsville  Bulletin

February 22

The first Queenslander to receive a COVID vaccine in my home state was Gold Coast nurse Zoe Park. The nurse who worked in a COVID ward received a Pfizer jab on monday morning with an estimated 180 receipients following her the same day.

The nurse didn’t mince words about the impact of the disease or the relief the added safety of the vaccine could mean for frontline workers.

It’s a very serious thing – I’ve seen families being torn apart from it. It’s really, it’s really sad what it has done to the patients affected and their families,” Park said.

It’s really scary for healthcare workers to be going home and potentially exposing their family to that as well, so (the vaccine is) very exciting,” the nurse added.

It had been over one year since the 28th of January when the first case of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Queensland and the patient put into isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital. 

On the day of the first vaccine being administered in the state there had been 1,323 cases all up, 1,912,189 tests administered and six deaths.

But now there was hope.

It was amazing to think what a difference a year makes.

Dr Jeannette Young stands smiling as she walks through Gold Coast University Hospital.

I desperately, desperately hoped this would be where we’d be. I didn’t think we’d reach it, so today is just absolutely fantastic. Just over a year to be vaccinating the first person is … I’m lost for words and I’m not often lost for words — it is just brilliant, said Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young.

This is the answer: we have five million Queenslanders here and if we want to keep five million Queenslanders safe, we need you to get vaccinated,” Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

One down, five million minus one to go,” added Dr Young.

Wednesday would see vaccines dispersed in Brisbane and Friday the first ones in Cairns.

The aim was for 1,000 vaccinations to be administered this first week but more like 10,000 the following week which would also include vaccinations occuring at the Townsville University Hospital, the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and my old stomping ground the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

This was the start of the roll out of category 1A to cover 125,000 peopl  which included health care workers, border and hotel quarantine staff.

There were two new cases reported in Queensland bringing the total to 7 active cases in the state.

With a population of 25 million the majority of Australian were scheduled to receive the AztraZeneca vaccine which would be producted locally by CSL Ltd by the middle of March. It was expected 4 million Australian would be vaccinated by the end of March and all by the end of October.

May be an image of 1 person and standing

In Victoria 100 frontline health care workers were vaccinated at Monash Health, the site and staff who had treated Australia’s very first COVID-19 patient.

Nurse Manager Rachel Hogben was one of those vaccinated, the woman who had been tasked with leading the care of 35 COVID patients at the height of the second wave in Victoria.

We’re now on the offensive you know we’re no longer acting defensively against this. We’re actually on the offensive and it’s an amazing day,” Nurse Hogben said.

An amazing day and an amazing person.

I have been heartened by the sights of initial vaccinations and which have shown so many of the nurses and doctors who put it on the line for their communities now being offered the first real protection we could provide them. They deserve that but they also deserve our thanks. They deserve monuments and medals and tickertape parades but most of all they deserve whatever they need because they have given us everything they have.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 22nd of February, 2021 there had been 28,9626 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a roap map for coming out of lockdown.

It involved four steps spaced five weeks apart each, the intention was not go back on any of them but Boris allowed that they may to.

Step 1 which obviously caught my attention was on the 8th of March all schools will re-open with outdoor sports allowed. Two people could share a coffee, drink or picnic in a park too.

I obviously not happy about this, teachers I knew in England did not have a snow ball’s chance of receiving their first jab before May and the reactions by schools to COVID cases over the winter made me all too aware of the potential risk those that I cared about were facing.

The BBC reported pupils can access tests and be required to face coverings in classrooms and shared spaces like corridors.

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It was also scheduled for the 29th of March, 2021 and would allow outdoor gatherings of six people and between two households. Tennis and baseketball courts would also re-open.

Step 2 on the 12th of April, it was intended non-essential retail, shops, hairdressers, gyms, swimming pools, public libraries, caravan parks and camp sites and outdoor hospitality like zoos, beer gardens, theme parks and bottleos could re-open.

Funerals could occur with 30 people and weddings with 15.

However there would be no visits between households in doors.

The hospitality curfews woudl end and a revew of international travel restrictions would be announced.

throwing papers up in the air gif | WiffleGif

Step 3 on the 17th of May, two households could visit each other and gatherings of six friends in a pub could take place.

Outdoors gathering could be as large as 30 people.

Thirty was also the number allowed at weddings, funerals and wakes.

Cinemas, musuems, hotels, sporting and performance arts venues would re-open with social distance measures in place. Upt to 10,000 spectators could attend football stadiums.

As mentioned by Beetley Pete at the time there was talk of vaccine passports to help indoor venues to re-open safely. 

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Before Step 4 took place, scheduled for the 21st of June, there would be a review of long term measures like mask wearing and social distancing of one metre plus. Also to be looked at was the working from home guidelines, visitors for aged care residents, remaining restrictions for weddings and funerals and opening up of live music venues and nightclubs.

Rate of vaccinations, new cases and new variants would inform all decisions. 

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Certainly not at the rate he was going. Despite this the lockdown had been in effect for qutie some time and had not seen an immediate rush out of it following lower numbers. Some coverage here in Australia showed people living in England fatigured by it and over it. I had been very grateful for it. I believe it had saved lives.

Professor Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College London publicly stated the roadmap struck the right balance but warned re-opening schools increased the risk of further cases.

UK Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the five week gap was important and that measures such face coverings, hand washing and self isolation may be needed during the following winter.

The BBC reported there had been over 17 million first jabs administered.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 22nd of February there had been in the UK 4,122,421 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,050. There had been 120,580 deaths with a daily increase of 215.

-Lloyd Marken