COVID-19 DIARY – NEWS JUNKIE

May 21

In the wake of my sister and her husband finally getting the jab it was timely to think of where vaccinations were in the UK.

More than 37 million Britons had received at least one vaccine dose.

The initial roll-out targeted 32 million people who were either aged over 50, or residents and workers in aged care, or frontline health care workers, or those with underlying health problems and unpaid carers.

People who fell under those categories had accounted for 99% of all COVID deaths in the UK and the government had aimed to have offered anyone in that group at least their first jab by the 15th of April.

Now the rollout had expanded to get 21 million Britons aged 20 to 49 years old to receive their first jab by mid-July.

The thirty seven million equated to 70% of the adult population.

More than 21 million had their second dose.

There was a move to crank up second doses to over 50s in the wake of the new Indian variant.

In mid-march 500,000 first doses were administered per day.

Now first doses averaged 190,000 per day and 340,000 second doses were being administered on average.

Chart showing the total number of vaccine doses per 100 people by country

Public Health England has estimated that 11,700 deaths have been averted in people aged 60 years or older in England up to 25 April 2021, as a direct effect of being vaccinated.

Scotland has vaccinated 92% of those aged 40 and over with at least one dose, while Northern Ireland and Wales have reached 89%.

England, on average, has vaccinated 91% of the same age group, with the South West reaching 94% and London 83%.

Well over half of the adult population of Great Britain has received their first done and roughly a third have received their second dose.

There have been disparities between ethnic groups and poorer and wealthier areas.

The Pfizer-BioNTech jab – the first to be given the green light in December – is being imported from Puurs, Belgium.

A second vaccine, from Oxford University and AstraZeneca, is being made at a number of sites in Britain. Further doses are expected to come from the Serum Institute of India and the Halix plant in the Dutch city of Leiden.

The third, from Moderna, is coming from sites in Switzerland and Spain, via Belgium.

The UK is also lined up to receive at least three further vaccines if they are approved for use.

A jab manufactured by US firm Novavax will be made in Stockton-on-Tees in north-east England, while another by French company Valneva will be made in Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland.

The third, produced in the Netherlands by Belgian firm Janssen, owned by Johnson & Johnson, should also be available later this year.

On the horizon were vaccines from Valneva, GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax and Janssen.

Ministers have also announced an eighth deal with biopharmaceutical company CureVac to develop vaccines against future variants.

On Friday here in Australia there was plenty of COVID news to cover.

Some continued coverage in the need to get more people with disabilities vaccinated.

There was talk of putting blood clot cases into perspective from COVID restrictions.

There was talk of the need to get overseas students able to study at Universities in Australia.

Gauri Gupta, sister of Govind Kant’s who passed away in India, spoke to 7:30 about her loss.

There was talk of getting MRNA production up in Australia in the next two years with the federal government putting a callout for companies to make applications.

In the past, whenever we have needed boosters because a pathogen has mutated, it has generally taken about six months to get that up and running in a laboratory setting. With the mRNA vaccines it only takes six weeks. So that in itself is a big game-changer,” Professor Sanjaya Senanayake told Channel 9’s Today of the benefits of local mRNA production.

12,000 daily vaccination doses in New South Wales took the number of vaccinations in the state past 1 million wtih 1,030,428.

The national total was 3,472,874.

Out of that roughly two thirds were AstraZeneca doses and the other third was Pfizer.

Channel 9 reported 24 cases of of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) linked to AstraZeneca vaccinations in Australia with 21 confirmed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration

Recently a 53 year old South Australian man received a jab on the 4th of May and ended up in hospital May 18 with severe abdominal pain.

There was also the 18 year old nurse in Queensland, a 57 year old woman in and a 79 year old man both from Victoria.

Over 230 volunteers were allowed back into the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne including ‘The Splint Ladies‘ who have each been volunteering at the hosptial for three decades.

It was also reported that earlier in the week the Chinese made COVID vaccine Sinopharm was dispensed in the Solomon Islands making it the first Pacific Islander nation to receive the vaccine. Australia had also pledged to deliver 60,000 doses of AstraZeneca to the islands.

No one is safe unless everyone is safe. That means having access to vaccine is very critical and for countries like Solomon Islands that are extremely vulnerable because of our isolation and also because of our limited resources, accesss to vaccine for us is almost likened to life. And we are so grateful to the COVAX facility for the AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the People’s Republic of China for the Sinopharm vaccine,” Solomon Islands Health Minister Dr Culwick Togamana said.

India appeared to be coming off the peak of its largest and most devasting wave. The virus was spreading more rurally sadly in the country which would have consequences since there were less resources in those places.

In neighbouring Nepal it was reported 50 per cent of COVID tests returned positive on a daily basis, sometimes higher. The number of hospitalisations had increased and beds and oxygen were in short supply.

Following a petition that I coincidentally signed urging the Australian government to help, they announced seven million dollars of support would be sent.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 21st of May, 2021 in Nepal there had been 488,645 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,227. There had been 5,847 deaths with a daily increase of 190.

But for some none of that was the big news of the day.

Oh no.

The big news for them was that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had not yet had her COVID vaccine.

And neither had the Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young.

With so much coverage about blood clots people argued leaders taking the jab could build confidence.

They argued this struck the wrong tone, gave the wrong message.

Dr Young as a health care professional was waiting to get Pfizer and the Premier merely said she was waiting to do it after her flu shot which she had not yet had – halfway through Autumn.

At work we had taken our flu shots in early April but another school of thought was workplaces should hold off giving flu shots so early in the season.

In the past 24 hours in Australia 92,000 doses had been administered in the country.

The next day there was continued back and forth reported between Premier Palaszczuk and Prime Minister Morrison about the potential Wellcamp Airport quarantine facility. No real movement there.

On the ABC their program The Vaccine covered the latest on the vaccine roll-out in Australia and the latest news coming out of India.

Health Minister Greg Hunt’s words at a press conference were covered as unhelpful as the main vaccine on offer in Australia remained the AstraZeneca vaccine which had links to very rare cases of blood clotting.

Right now we want to encourage everybody over 50 to be vaccinated as early as possible but we’ve been very clear as supply increases later on in the year there will be enough vaccine of mRNA for every Australian,” Greg Hunt said.

You could argue it was simply acknowledge the fact that some people were going to hold out for Pfizer regardless of their age but there was a need to encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as they could.

Also has history had shown, we couldn’t assume that vaccine doses would arrive as we hoped they would at the end of the year in the quantities expected. There was a winter to contend with in between too.

Casey Briggs reported there had been 3.47 million vaccine doses dispensed in the country with over 100,000 doses dispensed.

The seven day average was just under 70,000 a day.

it was also reported cases were back on the rise in Brazil and surging in many South East Asian nations like Thailand and Malaysia.

Thailand hits over 1,300 daily COVID-19 cases after new year travels |  Daily Sabah

Physician and journalist Dr Norman Swan on the program spoke about vaccine hesitancy and the roll-out in Australia in general.

He advised waiting for Pfizer a choice someone could make but that given the leaks from hotel quarantine already and the rising number of infectious cases now was not the time to wait to get vaccinated.

The latest 617 Indian variant 617 was almost 40 more infectious than the British variant.

The R number is the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to on average.

The original Wuhan variant that swept the world had an R number of of 2.4

The UK strain that originated in Kent had an R number of 4.5.

Indian Covid variant could overwhelm NHS if it proves more transmissible  than Kent strain

It was estimated the Indian variant’s R number was at least 6 maybe even as high as 8 and could prove a little vaccine resistant.

He also reminded that risk of death from COVID goes up and the risk of blood clotting from AstraZeneca goes down.

He also spoke of how initial clinical trials presented the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine with an efficacy rate of 62 per cent.

SInce those trials, AstraZeneca was been dispensed twelve weeks apart with better results and both AstraZeneca and Pfizer seemed to give almost 100 per cent chance of avoiding hospitalisation from COVID. The current efficacy rate in the real world from infection was about 85 per cent with AstraZeneca and 95 per cent with Pfizer. A significantly smaller gap.

Infectious disesases expert Associate Professor Sanajaya Senanayake from Australian National University also joined the program.

You will hear there was a blood clot today, and you don’t hear about the half a million cases people who received vaccines who didn’t get a blood clot,” he noted about media coverage.

Which I understood what I meant but at the same time the number of vaccines being dispensed was being reported and also the reality of the statistical likelihood was also being covered but of course fear doesn’t make you act sensibly.

Australia at the moment does not have community transmission of COVID which is a wonderful thing in so many ways but combined with the one in a 100,000 risk of a clot with the AstraZeneca vaccine people are hesistant,” said Associate Professor Senanayake.

There was so much talk about the need for more marketing, the fear of blood clots and while I understand all of that is relevant.

I have to say the most important thing was getting our most vulnerable and our most keen vaccinated. That came down to logistics and that came down to organising.

COVID vaccine rollout delays frustrate vulnerable Australians in priority  group - ABC News

My older sister in disability care had still not been vaccinated.

Our aged care residents and staff had still not all been vaccinated.

Plenty of young people were keen do the smart thing and get vaccinated.

Worry about them.

They don’t need an ad to convince them and they know what’s at stake.

Now we’ve seen in Taiwan a country who like Australia has controlled COVID really well what can happen. They’ve got a very low vaccination rate and COVID has been introduced into the community, they’re having about 300 cases a day now and they’re going into a lockdown. That’s the danger here. We can go from having no COVID to having widespread community transmission in the blink of an eye. And then trying to mass vaccinate everyone when there is a lot of COVID around that becomes complicated,“warned Senanayake and his words would only been proven more true in the weeks ahead.

May 23

Sunday and on the 23rd of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 166054891 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 590064.

There had been 3564623 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 11865.

In the Solomons Islands there had been 23 cases recorded and zero deaths. As of the 13th of May it was reported 11,536 vaccine doses had been administered.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 15,187 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 54.

There had been 156 deaths with a daily increase of two.

More had to be done.

There had been 13 new daily deaths recorded on the 20th of May, a record for the country.

More had to be done.

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

In Australia there had been 30,004 confirmed cases with a daily increase four. There had been 910 deaths.

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

COVID: Nepal reeling from a deadly second coronavirus wave | Asia| An  in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 07.05.2021

In Nepal there had been 505,643 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,591. There had been 6,153 deaths with a daily increase of 129.

By the 29th of May there would have been 2,802,596 vaccine doses administered in the country with a population of 28.61 million people.

In Malaysia there had been 505,115 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,320. There had been 2,199 deaths with a daily increase of 50.

As of the 16th of May, there had been 1,914,554 vaccine doses administered in the country with a 31.95 million people.

In Canada there had been 1,352,121 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,676. There had been 25162 deaths with a daily increase of 51.

The country had reached the milestone of 25,000 dead from COVID on the 20th of May with 25,018 and a daily increase of 35. 

The country was coming off its most recent and largest wave of COVID with the percentage of its population much higher than it had been only a few weeks earlier.

By the 27th of May there would be 22,622,529 vaccine doses dispensed in Canada which had a population of 37.59 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,460,450 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,523. There had been 127,716 deaths with a daily increase of six.

By the 31st of May the UK had dispensed 64,923,228 vaccine doses amongst a population of 66.65 million people. 

France's sidewalk cafes and restaurants reopen after 6-month shutdown -  MarketWatch

In France there had been 5,497,073 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,821. There had been 107,732 deaths with a daily increase of 75.

By the 29th of May there would have been 36,487,886 vaccine doses dispensed in a country with 67.06 million people.

In India there had been 26,530,132 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 240,842. There had been 209,266 deaths with a daily increase of 3,741.

The next day India would reach the milestone of over 300,000 COVID deaths with 303,720 and a daily increase of 4,454.

While the country was coming down from its most devastating wave with reported case numbers there had been 4,529 deaths reported four days earlier on the 19th of May. The highest number of daily deaths from COVID in the country ever.

By the end of the month on the 31st of May, there would have been 218,358,591 vaccine doses dispensed in India.

Brazil's Covid Crisis Is a Warning to the Whole World, Scientists Say - The  New York Times

In Brazil there had been 15,970,949 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 76,855. There had been 446,309 deaths with a daily increase of 2,215.

In Brazil the highest number of daily deaths had been 4,249 reported on the 10th of April, 2021.

By the 27th of May there would have been 60,017,445 vaccine doses dispensed in a country with 211 million people.

In the United States of America there had been 32,762,914 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 27,921. There had been 583,696 deaths with a daily increase of 743.

By the 27th of May there would been 294,270,594 vaccine doses dispensed in a country with 328.2 million people.

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 21, 2020 

The United Kingdom came to be listed as the country with the fourth most number of cases in the world. There were 248,297 confirmed cases with a daily decrease of 525. The number of dead 35,704 with a daily increase of 363.

In Brazil there were 271,628 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17,408! The number of dead were 17,971 with a daily increase of 1,179.

May 22, 2020

There was talk of opening up state borders in Australia. In response Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said, “New South Wales had the Ruby Princess — I mean, seriously? And they are trying to give us advice on our borders, seriously?“.

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

Rare blood clots from AstraZeneca vaccine mostly affect younger people |  Financial Times

April 16

A New South Wales woman had died after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

There had been 79 clotting incidents following 20 million jabs of the vaccine in the UK.

Now there had been three in Australia.

As the federal government looked to ramp up their vaccine rollout the numbers were daunting.

Currently 100,000 Pfizer doses were arriving every week.

That needed to ramp up to 1,500,000 doses a week to meet to all 40 million doses arrive by year’s end. Close to 50 million doses would be needed to vaccinate the whole population.

THe 40 million Pfizer doses of course were only part of 170 million doses we had on order.

It was unlikely we would receive all doses by Christmas but the end goal had to be vaccinating people as quickly as possible. Novavax was still unapproved, delivery numbers of Pfizer was less than ideal and now the AstraZeneca was not the preferred choice for under 50s.

April 17

Forty eight year-old Genene Norris of the New South Wales Central Coast had passed away from blood clots having received the AstraZeneca vaccine. On saturday The Therapeutic Goods Administration advised her death was likely linked to the vaccine. She received her jab on the morning of the 8th of April hours before the government changed their policy. She did have underlying health conditions including diabetes.

Her family made a statement, “We cannot believe that this time last week she was with us and now she is gone.

There were three cases of rare blood clotting following over 900,000 vaccinations in Australia so far.

A woman from Western Australia and a man from Victoria, both in their 40s were now recovering.

We have seen some hesitancy … particularly in the state-run clinics,” the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said in regards to shaken confidence in getting the vaccine.

One of the crucial components about vaccine hesitancy, or the opposite vaccine certainty, is about understanding and knowing that if there is bad news, it’s told. That there is openness from people like myself,” he explained.

A recent Oxford University study had pointed out that getting COVID led to an even higher risk of getting blood clotting which Professor Kelly referred.

The vast majority of our citizens know the benefits of taking a vaccine, they also know the risks, as slight as it is. I turned 50 last year and got the jab and am very excited to get the second one. The vast majority of our citizens want a vaccine, want to get ahead of it,” advised New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oZyVY0gE1c&list=PLsBzd5S5fFgFdYL2NUa6np-BQIis6Z8cX&index=21

April 18

There had been 330,000 vaccinations carried out in Australia in the past seven days but anecdotally a Sydney GP told of a halving of his vaccination bookings.

We need those vaccinations to be in people’s arms not in the fridges so I appeal to everyone to come in and get vaccinated because this vaccine is a safe vaccine,” Dr Rifi said.

National Cabinet meetings were scheduled to go every two weeks to work through vaccination roll out issues.

On the 18th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 140,373,652 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 835,129.

We reached 3 million deaths worldwide from COVID the same day.

3,005,346 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 11,858.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 9,738 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 223. There had been 89 deaths with a daily increase of five.

April 15th had marked the highest number of new daily deaths in the country with eleven. 

In Australia there had been 29,505 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 21. There had been 910 deaths.

On the 29th of December the last COVID death in Australia had been reported. 

April 14th, 2021 marked the first new death from COVID in the country since then. 

In Canada there had been 1,106,062 confirmed cases 9,346. There had been 23,541 deaths with a daily increase of 41.

Cases were surging.

A record of new daily cases had been reached in the country on December 28, 2020 with 9,827 cases.

That record was broken on April 13th, 2021 with 9,936 new daily cases and it would be again on the 21st of April, 2021 with 10,275 new cases.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,385,942 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,206. There had been 127,260 deaths with a daily increase of 35.

In Brazil there had been 13,832,455 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 85,774. There had been 368,749 deaths with a daily increase of 3,305.

In India there had been 14,788,109 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 261,500. There had been 177,150 deaths with a daily increase of 1,501.

The next day there were 273,810 new daily confirmed cases.1,619 new reported daily deaths.

Every day was a grim new record.

A week later 349,691 new daily cases and 2,767 deaths. 

Every day in between a new record.

In the United States of America there had been 31,250,635 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 73,697. There had been 560858 deaths with a daily increase of 911.

ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 17, 2020

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 2,080,235 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 81,839.

139,507 people had died from COVID-19. The daily increase was 8,473.

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.

Poop tests stop COVID-19 outbreak at University of Arizona | Science | AAAS

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.

Coronavirus: Qantas further cuts international flights, grounds eight A380s  – Business Traveller

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 – O CANADA

Sunrise on Western Canada

 

April 09

Where I live there isn’t much in the news about Canada. 

I have always taken care to keep track of their stats on the World Health Organisation dashboard because I know people over in Canada and I want to know what they’re facing. 

Canada had its share of woes but in comparison to the United Kingdom and the United States their numbers were not as bad. 

Now with the United States of America steaming ahead with vaccinations and the UK dispensing at a fast rate too the numbers were changing.

Canada april

If you look at the graph above taken from today May the 9th, 2021 Canada experienced a severe second wave over their most recent cold months. This is similar to most of the world following an initial wave in March/April 2020.

But unlike say the UK or the US, Canada has experienced what some other European countries have which is despite the introduction of the vaccine they have quickly gone into a third wave.

Spare a thought for some of the European countries which had no dip in February or March and whose death rates have also gone up.

With Canada while the case numbers have risen, so far the death rates have not followed suit at the same rate.

A Forbes article from April 9 discussed Canada’s infection rate. 

It noted during the first two waves of COVID in the country, Canada’s numbers were among the lowest in Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations and with a significantly lower infection rate than the U.S.

Now that was looking to change. The BBC reported Canada was averaging 180 cases per million.

The US was just ahead with 196 cases per million, down from 700 cases per million in January. 

The B117 UK Variant was the dominant strain in the country with 90 per cent of cases but the Brazilian P1 variants was also now in the community and rapidly spreading.

Whiting Event in Lake Ontario

In Ontairo where 14 million people lived, a four week lockdown had been imposed with non-essential retail and Toronto schools shut down.

The Vancouver Canucks hockey team had postponed games as 25 players and staff caught COVID.

The BBC reported the US had fully vaccinated 19.6% of its population, compared with 8.5% in the UK and 2% in Canada.

Having started vaccinations on December 14, Canada had orders with 7 different vaccine supplies totalling 400 million doses but it has very little production capacity itself. 

The only two approved vaccines for the country in February were Moderna and Pfizer with delays of delivery as production ramped up in Europe and countries despately needed the vaccine too.

At the point six million doses were expected to be delivered by the end of March.

Canada had signed a deal to locally produce Novavax and began construction of a factory in Montreal.  

COVID-19 response: Building the infrastructure

Regardless.

Canada had enacted a hotel quarantine scheme on the 22nd of February, 2021.

Travellers had to test negative within 72 hours of getting ready to fly to Canada. Then they quarantine in designated hotel for three nights until receiving the results of another test they took upon arrival in the country. If they tested positive they could quarantine for 14 days at home, if they tested negative they had to quarantine in a facility chosen by the government for 14 days. 

Similar though not as stringent as a scheme Australia put in place eleven months earlier in late March 2020!

Vaccines could be less effetive against the new strains taking off and also as shown in Brazil affect more young people leading the median age of hospitalisations becoming much younger. 

In the videos below you can watch interviews with Intensive Care Unit physician Dr Michael Warner discussing the situation with hospitalisations in Ontairo in March, 2021.

Provincial Governors in Canada issued lockdowns and restrictions in response to rising hospitalisations.

But the action taken by each province varied.

There was a curfew in Montreal and Laval and four areas of the Quebec province had seen lockdowns extended. 

Eastern Canada, Day and Night

Just that week a gym in Quebec City was the epicentre of a spread of  419 cases.

Comparatively the Maritime provinces followed a similar policy to New Zealand with quick and severe suppression strategies. They now had established a travel bubble amongst each other.

Vince Volpe set up a petition via Change.org to try and have education staff prioritsed as essential workers to get vaccinated sooner rather than later in Canada which I signed along with 76,837 others.

On April 30, 2021 there was an update on the petition.

A statement had been released by the Ontairo’s Minister of Education Stephen Lance that from the 3rd of May, all education workers in the province would be able to book a vaccine appointment.

Pandemic concerns: Teachers worried about their health, quality of  education – Chilliwack Progress

Mid may would atleast mean second doses could be administered before the new school year in September. Classes were happening right now followed a delayed spring break but at least getting all teachers vaccinated by a new school year would be something if it could happen. Not just teachers too but all school staff and early childhood care centres.

Mid-May is about the latest that it can possibly happen where we will still have vaccines for education workers, and have all of the second round of shots finished in time for the new school year, but that does nothing for this school year,” elementary school teacher Lyndsay Houghtling said during an interview with CTV’s Your Morning on the 7th of April. 

We have an entire spring break available to us where we could realistically have it all done and have all of our education workers vaccinated, including our educational assistants are seen by [child and youth workers], our custodial staff, our administrative staff,” Houghtling said.

We hoped the vaccines would see the end of the worst of the pandemic but it is not over yet.

Canada, the lack of dips in Europe, the situation in places like Papua New Guinea, Brazil and India are painful reminders of this.

Maybe there is hope to be found in the fact that Canada with rising case numbers and hospitalisations and low vaccine rates still has not seen a similar rise in deaths.

Either way Canada you are never far from my thoughts.

On the 9th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in Canada there had been 1,028,041 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,148. There had been 23,173 deaths with a daily increase of 32.

 

-Lloyd Marken

 

ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 09, 2020.

The WHO reported in Canada there were 18,433 cases with a daily increase of 1,384. There had been 401 Canadians die with a daily increase of 56.

 

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