COVID-19 DIARY – INTERLOPERS

Goondiwindi Chamber of Commerce

June 08

Tuesday there was some good news in my household – my wife got the Pfizer vaccine. She had made a booking and went to a vaccine site at the Prince Charles Hospital for people in her age group.

This was a welcome development.

As I lamented the failure to vaccinate our more vulnerable I was happy my wife now had received a dose and of Pfizer.

Having gotten the AstraZeneca I had expected my wife to have to wait many more months until the end of the year to get her first dose.

As a husband you prefer your wife to be more protected than yourself and now she was.

In not so good news she was advised she wouldn’t automatically get a follow-up dose in three weeks time.

She had to make the booking herself and she was advised the efficacy would still be there if it took up to nine weeks. She made a booking for as soon as she could.

First Look at Sunshine Coast's New $430m CBD

June 09

Wednesday and news in Australia must seem comical to overseas readers but here we go.

A couple left Melbourne on the 1st of June when it was in lockdown. They travelled through rural New South Wales and arrived in Queensland and Goondiwindi June 5th. After three days out in the community of the Sunshine Coast and one of them tested positive to COVID.

Questions were raised given their route away from the coast and the fact that when they left Melbourne it was in lockdown but it could be that the couple were re-locating for work which would have granted them exemption as well other approved reasons.

That would have to be established.

Also being established was more testing hours at the Sunshine Coast and more vaccine doses being delivered to the area too.

Speaking of locked down Melbourne restrictions were being lifted in the southern capital come Friday.

Now the limit you could travel was 25 kilometres – up from 10. There were no home gatherings allowed but students were going back to learning at school.

From Friday will be required indoors only and many businesses can re-open but with limited capacities.

One new local case reported overnight, over 1,200 remained isolating from the rest of Melbournians.

June 10

Thursday and the male partner of the couple from Melbourne had tested positive. The parents they had stayed with had tested negative as residents came out in droves to get tested across the Sunshine Coast.

Another 400 people are self-isolating and getting tested after potentially coming into contact with the couple at exposure sites in Goondiwindi, Toowoomba and the southern Sunshine Coast.

Nine thousand and eight hundred tests had been carried out the day before.

Authorities were hopeful the pair had been near the end of their transmissible cycle. Hospitals and aged care facilities did not go into lockdown.

The couple had relocated to Queensland for the man’s work and a requirement from his new employer was for him and his wife to get tested so he would have COVID clearance to start work. That is when the positive tests for her came back.

While the Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath would not point the finger at the couple while the matter was under investigation she did confirm, “If people do get an exemption to travel they are requried to quarantine.

Moree's much-loved Mayor Katrina Humphries calls time on 13-year tenure  ahead of September election - ABC News

Mayor Katrina Humphries of the small New South Wales town of Moree with a population 7,383 was ready to point the finger.

Bitterly disappointed. Actually quite disgusted – I think its an incredibly un-Australian thing to do. We’ve looked after ourselves, we’ve managed so well and then people can just ruin it for everyone. We’ve just got over a flood, we’ve had three years of drought, we’ve kept our community safe and now this rubbish.,” she said.

The town of Moree was running out of COVID testing kits.

Sunshine Coast cafe owner Pierre Mortensen felt for four of his staff who were now isolating.

What a shame, they were doing nothing wrong – just doing their jobs and now they’re in a 14 day lockdown,” he said.

As some restrictions were due to be lifted in Melbourne the next day, authorities changed their minds about mask wearing only indoors. Now masks would remain mandatory both outside and inside.

A 52 year old woman died from blood clotting in the brain after receiving a AstraZeneca. Two deaths having resulted from 3.6 million vaccines.

That actually meant in Australia there was so far a one in a 1.8 million chance of dying from blood clotting after having AstraZeneca.

But it also led to another unlikely statistic.

Two Australians had now died in 2021 from blood clotting following getting an AstraZeneca jab.

Only on Australian had died from COVID in 2021 so far.

However 909 had died in 2020 and I wondered of those 909 how many would take the AstraZeneca vaccine if they were still alive to have that opporunity?

June 11

Dr Sanjaya Senanayake was on the Channel Nine Australia’s morning show Today to discuss the COVID variants and their new names and how they compared to each other.

I was resistant to the renaming since it when someone mentioned Brazilian, UK and Indian strains I had a fairly good understanding of what that meant.

Alpha strain? Which one is that?

Of course in recent weeks all the talk is about the Delta strain so it’s easier to remember which one that is.

Still Dr Senanayake broke it down, Alpha, Beta, Delta, Kappa,

Both Delta and Kappa strains had originated in India but it was the Delta strain that was now most dominant in the UK and 50 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha strain.

The Alpha strain was the UK strain or in the UK what was known as the Kent strain.

The Infectious Disease Expert advised in the program the original Wuhan strain infected at a rate of 2.5 people, the Alpha or UK strain at 3.75 and now the Delta or Indian strain 5.5 people.

He advised UK data showed out of 12,000 Brits who got infected with the Delta variant only 1 per cent went to hospital but even more interestingly only 2 per cent of those 12,000 had been fully vaccinated He didn’t mention how many had received one jab but those kind of statistics suggested while the Delta variant or Indian strain was able to spread more quickly it was not necessarily more deadly than previous strains.

He advised research in the UK suggested risk of symptamatic disease was reduced by 60 per cent from two doses of AstraZeneca and 88 per cent from two doses Pfizer and that was before you looked at hospitalisations and deaths.

June 12

Saturday and a mass vaccination hub in Sunshine Coast aimed to 1,000 vaccine doses dispensed in a day given the recent scare from the relocating Melbourne couple.

No community cases were recorded in Queensland that day.

June 13

It was reported by Channel Nine News that from mid-July over 300 GPs across Australia would be able to dispense PFizer vaccines. That was expected to increase to 600 by the end of the month.

The Therapeutic Goods Administrator advised Pfizer doses could now be stored in a normal fridge for 31 days which would help a great deal in terms of logistics.

On the 13th of June 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 175,349,190 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 398,721.

There had been 3,795,727 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 10,250.

As of the 4th of July, 2021 there had been 2,988,941,529 vaccine doses dispensed across the globe.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 16,727 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45. There had been 165 deaths reported.

It appeared the recent wave of cases that started to rise in early March, 2021 was coming down in the country.

By the 24th of June, 2021 there will have been a measly 51,170 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. 

In Australia there had been 30,237 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. There had been 910 deaths.

By the 27th of June there would have been 7,500,700 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

Malawi sacks heads of Covid-19 taskforce amid audit of use of funds |  Governance | The Guardian

In Malawi there had been 34,485 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15. There had been 1,159 deaths with a daily increase of one.

As of the 4th of July, 2021 there had been 492,390 vaccine doses dispensed in the small landlocked Africa nation of 18.63 million people.

In Nepal there had been 608,472 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,694. There had been 8,412 deahts with a daily increase of 46.

There had been 3,232,604 vaccine doses dispensed in the country with 28.61 million people.

In Malaysia there had been 652,204 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,793. There had been 3,844 deaths with a daily increase of 76.

By the 24th of June there will have been 6,823,104 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

In Canada there had been 1,399,716 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,442. There had been 25,886 deaths with a daily increase of 13.

By the 1st of July, 2021 38,068,118 vaccine doses will have been dispensed in the country of 37.59 million people.

Peru revises pandemic death toll, now worst in the world per capita | Otago  Daily Times Online News

In Peru there had been 1,998,056 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,799.

The next day the country would reach the milestone of two million cases with 2,001,059.

There had been 188,100 deaths with a daily increase of 253.

Per capita Peru had the worst COVID death toll in the world.

As of the 1st of July there will have been 7,569,763 vaccine doses dispensed in the country of 32.51 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,558,498 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,550. There had been 127,896 deaths with a daily increase of twelve.

Cases of COVID were on the rise in the country.

By the 27th of June there will have been 77,038,257 vaccine doses dispensed in the island nation.

In India there had been 29,439,989 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 80,834. There had been 370,384 deaths with a daily increase of 3,303.

6,148 deaths had been reported on the 10th of June, 2021. A new daily record.

By the 27th of June, 2021 there will have been 323,663,297 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

NYNG helps vaccinate 10,000 people a day at Javits vaccinations site |  Article | The United States Army

In the United States of America there had been 33,120,623 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,354. There had been 594,272 deaths with a daily increase of 394.

By the 1st of July there will have been 330,160,573 vaccine doses dispensed in the country of 328.2 million people.

394 daily deaths in America. Remember when that was shocking and now we think what an improvement such numbers it’s not even news.

But each of one of those 3,795,727 deaths matters and my heart goes out to the people who know those who are no longer with us.

Hopefully we’re getting there. I know it doesn’t feel like it sometimes but hopefully it is true and I choose to hope.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ONE PFIZER VACCINATION NOT A GREAT LOOK BUT FIVE MILLION NATIONAL VACCINATIONS LOOKS GOOD

Annastacia Palaszczuk et al. posing for the camera: (

June 07

Monday and Victoria recorded 11 new cases in the community bringing the total to 81 from this latest outbreak.

Three people were in hospital.

Three of the new cases wre linked to the Arcare aged care facility which took that cluster to nine cases.

A cluster in West Melbourne had grown to 14 cases with four new ones from the same household including three children.

Children do not need to be worried … kids overwhelmingly get mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. [It] doesn’t mean they can’t transmit, doesn’t mean that we don’t need to isolate them and quarantine them, but they overwhelmingly get mild illness,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

Three of the new cases are linked to the City of Whittlesea outbreak, which now stands at 32 cases.

The day before 24,265 tests had been conducted in Victoria and in state-run sites there had been 17,719 vaccine doses administered.

That added to a total of 550,000 tests conducted in the state since the current outbreak had started two weeks earlier.

Two of the cases at Arcare were a 79 year old resident and an agency nurse who last worked a shift on Saturday. Everybody who worked a shift at Arcare on Saturday were being required to get tested and quarantine for 14 days.

It is critical for us that all these primary close contacts isolate effectively and safely and that the new staff coming in to do the vital work of looking after those residents do so in a very safe and controlled environment,” Victoria’s COVID Response Commander Jeroen Weimar.

Will Victoria's coronavirus lockdown be only seven days? - ABC News

Three of the new from the Whittlesea cluster had tested postive of day 13 of their quarantine.

In fact nine of the eleven new cases were already identified as close contacts and had isolated which was good news according to Professor Sutton.

A number of those won’t have had any symptoms during that entire period [in isolation] so they’ll be picked up on that day 13 test. If they were tested on day seven they might actually have tested positive earlier, but the fact that every single one of them needs to have a confirmed day 13 test before they’re released from quarantine is a standard precaution to be absolutely sure,” he said.

One of the new cases was a cleaner at a construction site which had been listed as a contact stie, he along with 200 others had gotten tested as a result with him the testing positive.

For the lockdown the Victorian government announced a $30 million pakcage. 4.5 million for emergency food relief, grants for food hubs, income support of $800 per person to be administered through the Red Cross and $12 million for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

It is very much about saying, there is a whole lot of people in our community whose voice is not particularly loud sometimes, but we need to make sure that we provide that support,” Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan said.

He said there were new people presenting at emergency food relief agencies who had never before accessed that service.

It’s not just about case numbers, if cases are already in quarantine then they’re not adding to any level of population risk but also they’re not creating more work for the health department by identifying additional exposure sites where we have to then try and screen people who have also been there. When you’ve got low numbers [of cases in an outbreak], it can look very bumpy, but the reality is that might be exactly what you’d expect if you’ve got so many people in quarantine who we know have been exposed directly to a case,” advised Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett.

Queensland to extend coronavirus restrictions in wake of Victoria cluster,  more vaccine hubs to open - ABC News

In Queensland 63,272 vaccine doses had been dispensed in the past week with 17,032 of those over the weekend.

The state’s Health Minister Yvette D’Ath advised Queensland was getting 50,000 Pfizer doses now per week from the federal government allowing certainty with supply and distribution amongst community vaccine hubs.

To get [a delivery], and sometimes it would arrive early and we’d be told ‘that’s all you’re getting for three weeks’ … now we’re getting consistency,” she said.

AstraZeneca was left to be delivered by GPs to those 50 and over.

After the media beat-up from the previous week Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk aged 50 years and over advised she had received the Pfizer vaccine.

She advised she would have gotten the AstraZeneca jab but they were recommended to be taken twelve weeks apart and the Pfizer jab three weeks.

Premier Palaszczuk advised with a possible trip to meet the Olympic committee in Tokyo along iwth the Lord Mayor of Brisbane and the Australian Prime Minister for a Brisbane bid to host the games in 2032.

There may be a requirement for the state to present to the whole Olympic committee about the Olympics, and I would have been unvaccinated and that’s why I had the Pfizer,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The Chief Health Officer got AstraZeneca, the Health Minister got AstraZeneca, so the Cabinet is following the guidelines,” she added.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins in Queensland, as nurses, police inspector  receive first jabs on the Gold Coast - ABC News

Dr Jeanette Young who was in late 50s but technically a health care worker had received AstraZeneca following health care workers getting Pfizer jabs as part of the 1A roll out.

So not only was Premier Palaszczuk getting the vaccine at a time that the popularity of the AstraZeneca vaccine was waning but she was doing it in order to be able to take an overseas trip as thousands of Australians struggled to travel internationally for work or seeing dying loved ones for example. It certainly was not a good look but a lot of that came down to timing.

Australian PM is vaccinated as rollout begins - BBC News

On February 21st, the 52 year old Prime Minister Scott Morrison got a Pfizer jab along with 84 year old Jane Malysiak and others as the first Australians to get vaccinated.

The Prime Minister taking the only vaccine available in the country at the time and as a leader showing a confidence in taking the vaccine.

Not long after the 50 year old New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian received her first AstraZeneca jab. 

Over-50s rebellion threatens to derail vaccination program

No biggie, other Premiers weren’t rushing out, perhaps to not be seen to be using the privilege of their position but Premier Berejiklian was again showing confidence in a vaccine and as a leader taking care of her health so she could do her job.

On the 9th of April the Australian goverment made the Pfizer the preferred vaccine for those under 50 heightening concerns in the community of the safety of AstraZeneca.

Premier Mark McGowan rolls up his sleeve for first dose of AstraZeneca  COVID-19 vaccine | PerthNow

53 year old Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan rolled up his sleeve for the AstraZeneca jab on the 3rd of May. As a leader over 50 Premier McGowan struck the right tone getting AstraZeneca and the 2A rollout having opened up to allow anyone over 50 to get vaccinated he seemed to not be jumping the queue but just taking up the opportunity that everyone in his age group could now take up.

Now a mere month later Premier Palaszczuk getting a Pfizer jab got some people’s knickers in a twist. I wasn’t one of them but once again timing is a delicate thing and simply put it wasn’t a good look.

As part of the 1B cohort the Premier and Chief Health Officer could have received their first dose in late March reported The Daily Mail.

In mid-April she got the flu jab and had to delay two weeks then got a tetanus shot after her dog bit her during a playfight.

Where she had previously selflessly wanted to wait her turn, whether her trip to Tokyo would ensure million of dollars in work and economic prosperity for the people of her state, if she did end up going. It didn’t matter. It just wasn’t a good look. Maybe two weeks earlier wouldn’t have mattered. But in politics timing is everything.

As one person commented on social media, “It took me over six months, seven cancelled flights and $10,000+ to fly back to Australia to hug my terminally ill mum one last time and you are talking about ‘needing’ to go to the Olympics? Absolute joke and a kick in the guts to stranded Aussies. Assuming home isolation on return too.

Some smart people over the weekend noted a lack of queues at a vaccine hub and got vaccinated as walk ins but the advice was still to make bookings.

More than 936,000 doses have been delivered in Queensland with about 92,500 people fully vaccinated.

The state was also the first to approve 50 pharmacies to dispense vaccinations in remote and regional areas.

It’s just beyond belief we are not using the thousands of pharmacies at our disposal to get millions of vaccines out of fridges and into people’s arms,” The Pharmacy Guild of Australia President Trent Twomey told The Australian.

They estimated the roll out would take another 408 days to complete and with pharmacies that could be slashed to 241 days.

“It’s not an issue of training, infrastructure, supply or consumer confidence – all this is, is bureaucratic red tape which is slowing down the process towards herd immunity.”

The battle of a purpose built quarantine facility continued after the federal government issued a set of criteria to be met.

The Premier’s response.

If the Commonwealth wants to set the criteria they can design the facility, they can construct the facility, they can pay for the facility, and they can run the facility. After all quarantine is a federal government responsibility,” she said.

The Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was all for purpose built quarantine facilities in the country having included funding for it in last month’s budget reply speech.

There had been no breakouts from the Howard Springs Facility so far, there had been 21 or 22 from hotel quarantine in the past year.

Deputy opposition leader Richard Marles says there is just one purpose-built facility in Australia, Howard Springs in the Northern Territory, which unsurprisingly has no COVID-19 breakouts, while there has been 21 or 22 from hotels over the past year.

Fit-for-purpose facilities should be doing the bulk of the work,” Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles told the ABC’s Insiders program.

In good news Australia hit five million vaccine doses administered.

It had taken us 47 days to reach our first one million jabs, now 1 million had been dispensed in just the past nine days.

National Vaccine Operational Coordinator Commordore Eric Young advised 811,980 Pfizer doses would arrive onshore in the next couple of days and 230,000 AstraZeneca doses produced locally by CSL Limited would be batch released too.

Commodore Eric Young says extra 50,000 Pfizer doses distributed to NSW hubs  - ABC News

The Royal Australian Navy officer advised the biggest week yet of the vaccine rollout would take place with 1.1 million doses distributed across two and a half thousand locations in Australia including an additional 100,000 vaccine doses for Victoria where Melbourne remained in lockdown.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – MELBOURNE OUTBREAK PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON LACK OF VACCINE CARE FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT

May 31

Monday, a new week and there were 11 new cases in locked down Melbourne.

There was an indication in the news coverage that the lockdown would be extended.

Raising concerns was three new cases linked to aged care where cases had led to most of Australia’s deaths from COVID in 2020, in particular in Victoria during their series of lockdowns.

One was a Arcare Aged Care Worker and the son of the worker.

The other a 99 year old! Arcare Aged Care female resident who was asymptomatic but had been transferred to hospital. She had previously received her first doze of a COVID vaccine.

Also positive was an unvaccinated Arcare worker who had also worked at a Blue Cross Nursing home last week as well.

Up until Thursday staff in aged care were allowed to work across facilities until the lockdown took effect.

All remaining Arcare staff and residents were now going to be offered the Pfizer vaccine even though AstraZeneca was seen as the primary one to dispense to over 50 year olds.

The unvaccinated staff member had been on leave three weeks earlier when some residents had been vaccinated and left over doses were given to staff it was reported by Channel 9.

655 aged care residents died in Victoria last year from COVID last year. So far there have only been 910 deaths from COVID in Australia so far.

Both the Blue Cross residency and the Arcare residency were now in lockdown with a staff member of the Blue Cross facility having tested positive.

Pfizer doses were rushed to the Arcare facility the same day to offer to staff and residents either their first or second doses of the vaccine

It turned out one of the protestors in Melbourne over the weekend who breathed on media and was carted off by Police worked in aged care.

The situation amplified the fact that now in the fourth month of vaccines rolling out in Australia we still didn’t have all aged care residents and those with disabilities and attending staff vaccinated.

Partly that was because the vaccine was not mandatory for either those vulnerble citizens or those who took care of them.

Part of it was because it was complicated to deliver the vaccine to them.

Part of it was supply had been slow and state and federal authorities had chosen to race to get the vaccine out to as many of the general public that they could.

It did mean though that those who are often forgotten because they don’t have as loud a voice were being left behind in this race.

There was talk of maybe making COVID vaccinations mandatory for Aged Care Staff and as the ABC reported there was precedent of making those who worked in hotel quarantine get vaccinated in order to work.

June 01

Tuesday.

Close to 42,699 Victorians got tested in the past 24 hours as the cluster of cases grew to 54 iwth three new cases.

There were thankfully no new cases in aged care.

Meanwhile there was concern over how the virus was currently spreading. One of the day’s four new cases in VIctoria was thorugh fleeting contact and one new cases had never been to any of the contract tracing sites.

Speaking of the contract tracing sites there were plenty of them in Melbourne.

The state’s mass vaccination sites were going to “roll-out the red carpet” to aged care workers.

It was known that nine per cent of them had been fully vaccinated so far while on the job!

But the full numbers from them attending their own GP, etc was unknown.

On the ABC’s 7:30 program Professor Katy Eager from the University of Wollongong told that aged care workers were to their own devices to get vaccinated leaving them out of 1A frontline workers cohort.

Walk ins were to have a priority lane and go the front of the queue to get vaccinated from the 2nd of June through to Sunday the 6th at ten mass vaccination sites across Victoria, four in Melbourne and the rest in towns like Ballarat, Bendigo, Wodonga and Traralgon.

The Victorian government was also setting up nine disability vaccination centres for those with disabilities to get vaccinated.

It was reported just 335 people with disabilities in residential care out of 22,000 had been fully vaccinated.

Channel 9 News reported that 38,912 , 86% of aged are residents in Victoria have received one vaccine dose. Around half at 25,319 had received one dose.

In Australia 72,707 aged care workers have had either one or two jabs out of a workforce totalling 366,00.

The Victorian government wouldn’t be drawn on whether the lockdown would be exended or if there would be one set of rules for Regional Victoria and one for the capital Melbourne.

The World Health Organisation also announced they would now call strains after the Greek alphabet rather than from the country it originated from.

A sentiment I understand but one that I think will just cause confusion at a time when clarity is required. The B.1.1.7 mutation we knew as the UK strain would now be referred to as the Alpha variant, the B.1.315 mutation we know as the South African strain would now be referred to as the Beta variant, the P.1 mutation we knew as the Brazilian variant would now be referred to as the Gamma variant and the B.1.617.2 mutation known as the Indian variant would now be referred to as the Delta variant.

We’ll see how that works out.

The ABC aslo reported on the lockdown in Malaysia, only essential businesses were open, schools had moved to online learning and people could only move in a ten kilometre radius from their home. Of note you could exercise by jogging but not cycling. Malaysia’s hospitals were filling up.Ministers and Deputy Ministers were giving up their salary for three months to fund government health initiative. projects. There was also a 12.5 billion stimulus package.

A exhibition building in Kuala Lumpur had been converted into a mass vaccination site. mass immunisation centre.

On the 1st of June, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in Malaysia there had been 572,357 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,824. There had been 2,796 deaths with a daily increase of 67.

The country had reached a new daily record of confirmed cases May 30 with 9,020.

On June 3rd, 126 daily deaths would be a new daily record in that figure.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 30, 2020 

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised two millions deemed clinically extremely valuable that they could now leave their homes once a day for a little exercise and could even meet with a person from another household if there was only one of them. The advice was not to go to shops or crowded places and that services providing delivery of food or medicine would continue.

Rwanda reports its first fatality due to COVID-19, a 65 year old driver who had returned home from a neighbouring country when he fell ill.

The Queensland’s government moved to Step 2 of the National Three Step Program ahead of schedule from June 12 to 12pm June 1.

There could now be gatheirngs of twenty people and you could travel anywhere in the state.

Fellow blogger Beetley Pete wrote of the sad passing of his friend Brian Cushion from COVID.

June 1, 2020

Police were used to clear protestors from Lafayette Park so the President could oddly hold the Bible and take a picture.

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 – MARKETERS SAY YOU NEED TO MARKET SALVATION

May 20

Thursday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heroes come in all forms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It appeared the Indian variant spread more easily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And three daily deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 20, 2020

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

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

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

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

May 18

Tuesday.

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

The good news didn’t stop there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hospitality and tourism were back in business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy to hear your thoughts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 18, 2020

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

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

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

Mass cremations begin as India's capital faces deluge of COVID-19 deaths |  Reuters

April 19

Monday.

At a National Cabinet meeting the and federal leaders agreed to opening up vaccinations to anyone over 50 in Australia.

Regardless of whether the older age groups had all been vaccinated.

The thinking was as more people got more vaccinated it might grow confidence for some to get vaccinated who were sitting on the fence.

Hence starting on 2A phase of those aged 50-69 before the rest of 1B had been completed.

There wasn’t a lot of coverage in the media at the moment but I can tell that not all those with disabilities or living in supported accomodation had received their vaccines yet.

We don’t want to see one vaccine that’s rolling off the line and going through the approval processes and the batch testing sitting in a fridge,” Morrison said.

Great…so how about getting it to those with disabilities?

The priority of the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy remains to vaccinate vulnerable populations under priority groups 1a and 1b,” the Prime Minister said.

The medical advice remains that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe and recommended for Australians over 50 years old and all states will continue to be prioritised AstraZeneca for Australians over 50 years old,” he added.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

“Scott Morrison promised aged care residents and disability facility residents, the most vulnerable members of our community, would be fully vaccinated by Easter, but still more than three-quarters of aged-care facilities have not had their residents fully vaccinated. This is simply not good enough; Australia needs to speed up this crucial vaccine rollout. I’d like to see a new plan with clear timelines and targets. The last one which had targets like 4 million Australians by end of March, the job done by October, is clearly in tatters, we need a new plan with revised timelines and targets,” said Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler before the meeting.

Six million Australians would come under the 2A phase.

The Department of Health reported on April 14th, 2.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been produced in country and 714,000 received from overseas.

Breakdowns of how many people have been given which vaccine are not provided by the government or health authorities.

The changes would be potentially approved at the next National Cabinet meeting scheduled to take place on Thursday but had agreed in-principle to the changes.

The Prime Minister said National Cabinet still planned for GPs to be the primary way of dispensing vaccines to the populace but state governments would look to assist with mass vaccination sites.

Mr Morrison said the Commonwealth will continue to finalise the vaccination of residential aged care facility (RACF) residents with Pfizer using an in-reach model.

Australia remained slow in getting its country vaccinated.

This had implications for opening borders back up going forward causing issues for trade and business but as the Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted, “The pandemic is raging. globally. It’s raging.

Also being discussed was mass vaccine centre hubs in particular to when Pfizer doses arrived later in the year for under 50s to get vaccinated with.

“There’s a lot of work to be done given that would be effectively, if we wished, a 12-week sprint. There’d need to be plenty of planning to achieve that,” said the Prime Minister.

There was also talk from the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt about looking to set up an MRNA capacity here in Australia but it could take up to a year.

Other countries, Germany for example, decided they wanted to manufacture their own mRNA vaccines in country, to be assured of supplies of these state of the art vaccines, and they built a factory in about six months. We’ve seen for months now, talk from the government and no action,” countered Butler.

India is running out of COVID-19 vaccines, as second wave accelerates

In India a surging new wave of cases and deaths continued in a country that was a major vaccine producer.

On April 19th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 15,061,919 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 273,810. There had been 178,769 deaths with a daily increase of 1,619.

They had reported a million new cases in less than a week.

New restrictions and curfews were being put in place but the the wave was rising.

Sixty per cent of all vaccines were produced in India and the country was home to the Serum Institute of India which was the world’s largest vaccine producer.

They were a major player in the global vaccine sharing initiative COVAX.

Covax vaccine-sharing scheme delivers first doses to Ghana - BBC News

But now India was in short supply of vaccines themselves.
While vaccines could only do so much now given the spread was happening it did raise questions about the competing priorities of India’s delivery of vaccines to the rest of the world and to its own people.
SII had also previously slowed down exports in January to prioritise the most vulnerable in India with vaccines. Those decisions did have impacts abroad particularly in Africa.
The world has never looked to produce vaccines on this scale in these timeframes.
The United States of America with the most number of reported cases and deaths in the world had placed a temporary ban on raw materials used for vaccine production. The European Union had also tightened restrictions around vaccine exports.
Stage-3 Trials Given A Miss: Congress Leaders On Covid Vaccine Approval
The two main vaccines in India were the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine also known as Covishield, and the Indian vaccine Covaxin made by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Their roll out began in earnest in January with health care workers and those highest at risk. They wanted to vaccinate 300 million people by August in a country of 1.4 billion people.
Covaxin had been rushed into service before third trial efficacy data had been released but initial vaccine hesitancy had been overcome.
Still only 14.3 million Indians had been fully vaccinated and now the pandemic was raging.
The capacity to have vaccinated the whole country in such a short time would not have been possible.
In Punjab last week there had been 450,000 doses of Covishield and 30,000 doses of Covaxin in a state of 27 million.
Covishield: A timeline of the Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum  Institute of India | Hindustan Times
Other states had to suspend their vaccinations including the COVID ravaged Maharashtra which had also administered more than 11.1 million doses more than any other state.
Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with state governors had praised the success of India’s vaccination efforts.
India had become the fastest nation to reach 100 million jabs in 85 days. America had taken 89 and China 102.
The Indian government moved to receive more vaccines the same week by fast tracking approval of vaccines already approved for use in other countries.

India delivers COVID jabs for 'world's biggest vaccination drive' |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

April 21

Wednesday and my Mum and Dad got their Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine.

This was a huge relief for me.

I am told that on the way to the centre they were a little nervous and decided to put on the radio for some music to distract themselves and a news bulletin about blood clotting came on and they promptly turned the radio off.

There were no side effects and they will get a second dose in three months time.

April 22

The Australian government announced a travel ban on all direct flights from India. That included Australians trying to return home.

312,731 new cases were reported in the country that day alone and there were now well over 2 million active cases in India at 2,291,428.

2,104 deaths had been recorded in a single day.

The death toll stood at 184,657.

One third of active cases in Australia have now orginated from returning flights from India.

The travel ban will started on April 27 and will last for two weeks until May 15 when a further decision will be made.

New South Wales was also going to have a major vaccination hub open by mid-May to delvier 30,000 doses a week.

April 23

Friday the week was coming to an end, a long weekend beckoned but perhaps appropriately on the eve of ANZAC Day the mood was sombre as Perth went into a three day lockdown, a boat with COVID cases docked in Australia and images out of India broke my heart. Just look at that masked woman at the end shaking as she cries.

Anzac driveway events set to stay: RSLWA | Liverpool City Champion |  Liverpool, NSW

A man in his 50s had flown into Melbourne on Wednesday and tested positive Friday morning. He had been in hotel quarantine for the required days then been out in the Perth Community for five days with a friend who had now tested positive.

Those 270 passengers on the flight into Melbourne would need to isolate for 14 days and were currently being contact by Victorian authorities.

Thirteen more people had tested positive in the Howard Springs quarantine facility in Darwin – all returned travellers from India in the past week. So they were deferring flights throughout May into June.

There were 18 more hotel quarantine cases in New South Wales, twelve of them returned travellers from India.

Channel Nine 9 News reported the Queensland Premier had written a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a two week freeze on any travel from India.

Sydney port workers await COVID-19 results after boarding ship with  positive crew members - ABC News

Thirteen out of fifteen Port Botany workers tested negative to COVID having boarded a tanker previously that had an outbreak of COVID on board.

The tanker Inge Kosan had travelled from Port Moresby and docked in Sydney on the 31st of March and then gone on to Vanuatu where it was detained with twelve cases on board and one death due to COVID.

But it was India that captured our attention. Well over a year into a virus that first impacted China in late 2019 had wrecked havoc but perhaps never on a scale like this.

It was heartbreaking.

Just when you think we might have seen the worst of this.

We were reminded the virus never sleeps.

It never rests.

We can’t afford too either.

-Lloyd Marken

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.