COVID-19 DIARY – HEAVILY WEIGHTED DECISIONS – PART II

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

May 06

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is 11 / 1 400 000.

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

Out of those eleven cases though had been one fatality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A world record for daily new cases.

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

A new record of daily deaths in India too.

May 07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile the situation in India remained dire.

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

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

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

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

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

The highest ever – 414,188.

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 6, 2020

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

COVID-19 DIARY – HEAVILY WEIGHED DECISIONS – PART I

May 03

Monday.

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

This had followed discussions at National Cabinet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 04

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 4, 2020

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

COVID-19 DIARY – ONE LOCKDOWN ENDS AND A NEW BAN BEGINS

Cyclist wearing mask rides near fence of lookout over looking Perth city skyline of tall buildings.

April 26

Monday.

Perth came out of its snap lockdown with no new community cases reported that day.

Mandatory mask wearing would remain until at least 1 minute past midnight on Saturday morning.

Retaurants, pubs and cafes could re-open but indoor gyms, nightclubs and casinos would remain shut.

“The short three-day lockdown has done the job it was designed to do. It was the circuit-breaker we needed to limit community spread. Western Australians have done their bit to keep our community safe,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

QANTAS plane on tarmac in Hobart.

April 27

On the larger scale the Australian government made a decision to stop all direct flights returning from India India due to the higher number of COVID cases from returned travellers in hotel quarantine in particular from India.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all indirect flights through other cities like Doha, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur had been paused by their respective governments.

Last week on the 22nd of April, National Cabinet had made the decision to reduce flights from India by 30 per cent. 

It followed a reduction in repatriations and travellers going through hotel quarantines due to increased case numbers in said quarantine.

The ban halted two passenger flights from India to Sydney, two repatriation flights from India to Darwin and eight further repatriation flights scheduled for the first two weeks of May.

Travel to India was also retricted to matters of national interest, under medical exemption and for COVID-19 purposes.

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

On the 24th of April the number of positive cases at the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory had reached 48.

“The Northern Territory only has a certain amount of ICU beds,” the Northern Territory Deputy Opposition Leader Gerard Maley had said.

As of that Saturday, a total of 6,668 people have arrived in Darwin on repatriation flights since October last year, of which 117 have tested positive to COVID-19.

The total number of positive coronavirus cases reported in the Territory is 160, with all cases relating to international or interstate travel.

The Prime Minister said the total number of weekly cases in hotel quarantine had risen from 90 to 143.

The pause would last until May 15.

It was reported 9,000 Australians in India wanted to return home with 650 of them categorised as vulnerable.

Australia says chance of jail remote for India travel ban offenders - Times  of India

We don’t think the answer is to just forsake those in India and just shut them off. I don’t see this as a problem we have to solve, I see this as a group of people we need to help. These are Australians and Australian residents who need our help, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

When flights resume, all passengers will be required to have both a negative COVID-19 PCR test result and a negative rapid antigen test result prior to departure.

The Australian government was also sending 500 ventilators, 1 million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields.

On the 27th of April, the World Health Organisation reported there had been 17,636,307 confirmed cases with a daily increae of 323,144. There had been 197,894 deaths with a daily increase of 2,771.

“I stress this is an initial package, there’ll be more to follow,” the Prime Minister advised about the aid being sent.

“This is the challenge of a pandemic, you don’t get the perfect of all situations,” the Prime Minister said.

The European Union decided to sue AstraZeneca for breach of contract after they failed to deliver 30,000,000 dozes of their COVID vaccine by the end of June. The pharmaceutical company was only going to be able to deliver a third of that amount.

The U.S. government planned to send 60 million doses of AstraZeneca overseas to where it is needed if the move gets approval from the Food and Drugs Administration.

-Lloyd Marken

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 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 – ROLL OUT ROLL UP – PART VII

Coronavirus Australia: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine change could harm  rollout

April 07

Wednesday.

My brother from another mother passed on some very good news.

His father, mother and brother had all recovered from COVID and were out of hospital.

It was quite a relief.

There were some pretty sad stories about the state of hospitals and the number of people getting sick in India and it was only going to get worse.

He told me a story of a wardsman who basically slept at the hospital, worked non-stop and applied IV tubes to patients since medical students were being pressed into service.

As so many sad stories were set to come out of India we had one of relief although anxiety still remained high.

In Australia 920,334 vaccines doses had been dispensed.

Still a fairly slow rate and in the news were the fact that private hospitals in Brisbane had still not been able to vaccinate their frontline staff. Including the Brisbane Private Hospital, St Andrews Memorial Hosptial and the Wesley Hospital. Hospitals I had been a pateint at over the years.

April 09

Thursday night and a radical blow was struck to Australia’s vaccine roll out.

The main element of the the country’s vaccine strategy had been 53 million AstraZeneca doses with over fifty million doses to be made right her in Australia at CSL limited.

Pfizer had been used and other vaccines were going to be secured but the Oxford-AstraZeneca was going to be our jab of choice.

That was until now.

The Australian government named Pfizer as the preferred vaccine for adults under 50.

The use of the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine in adults aged less than 50 years who have not already received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine,” the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said.

This is based both on the increased risk of complications from COVID-19 with increasing age, and thus increased benefit of the vaccination, and the potentially lower, but not zero risk, of this rare event with increasing age,” he said.

A Melbourne man had been hospitalised last week developing blood clots a fortnight after being vaccinated.

Authorities did advise it can still be used for those under 50 if “the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits“.

I personally had been waiting for the vaccine to be available at my local medical centre to receive a jab. Now I could not make a booking because I was under 50.

AstraZeneca delays filing for US approval for COVID vaccine | Business and  Economy News | Al Jazeera

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advised getting a rare blood clot after receiving the vaccine was somewhere between one in 166,000 and one in 250,000.

Out of those stats about a quarter would die.

So that was approximately a one in 800,000 chance of dying from taking the AstraZeneca jab.

According to UNSW haematology senior researcher Jose Perdomo, it appears “very likely” that the AstraZeneca vaccine triggers a unique immune reaction characterised by low platelet count and clotting.

This is similar to another relatively rare but serious clotting condition, caused by the use of [blood thinner medication] heparin. This type of immune reaction involves platelets and white blood cells, and that is the reason for the development of severe clotting. In both cases, clotting appears within two weeks of administration of the substances.” advised University of New South Wales haematology researcher Jose Perdomo.

The average Australia had a one in 1,000 chance of getting a blood clot from deep vein thrombosis and 6 per cent of those would die. That is a one in 17,000 chance of an Australian dying from DVT in a year.

“Everything we do in life – every medication we take, every vaccine we give – has a risk. It is a very safe vaccine but that doesn’t mean that occasionally some very rare side effects won’t occur, and that’s what we’re seeing. People just need to be aware that every day we balance risk versus benefit, usually without thinking about it,” said Professor Jonathan Carapetis, from the Telethon Kids Institute and Australian Association of Medical Research Institutes.

In Australia over 900 hundred had died from COVID. That alone was a one in 30,000 chance of dying from it in a country where the disease had been relatively so far kept in check.

If every Australian was vaccinated with AstraZeneca given the current statistics it could be estimated that something like 25 would tragically die. Far less than 900.

However I beleived the governments were far more prepared to have lose lives through lack of action rather than through direct action.

Who really wants to be the one who pulls the trigger on 25 lives?

No one.

But the cost of doing nothing could be end up being higher.

In America one in 600 people had died from COVID.

A cautious approach is recommended since specific risk factors are currently unknown,” Dr Perdomo advised.

I wondered if in a country that had suffered far more loss if the risk of these blood clots would lead to such decisions.

And it had.

How a British COVID-19 vaccine went from pole position to troubled start |  The Japan Times

In Great Britain where over 125,000 people had died from COVID and government had failed to enact restrictions as early as some other countries.

In the country partly responsible for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and having rolled out the drug to many millions already even there Great Britain was restricting use in people under the age of 30.

On April 7th the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that Pfizer or Moderna vaccine be offered to people under 30.

In the UK there had been 79 cases of blood clotting and 19 of the cases had proven fatal. Three of those were under 30. Eleven under 50.

They presented a risk/reward analysis based on a COVID-19 infection rate of 2 per 10,000 – roughly equivalent to the UK’s situation in March.

The UK government had come to this decision from a risk reward analysis based off the statistics from March when the risk of COVID was 2 per 10,000.

Analysis, prepared by Cambridge University based on this statistic argued that someone aged 20-29 was more likely to end up in intensive care from AstraZeneca than COVID.

That of course didn’t take into account the lowering of the median age of hospitalisations whwere the Brazilian stain was prevalent or that the March had not been the height of Britain’s most devastating COVID wave.

In fact other Cambridge researchers from the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication prepared models with higher infection rates that still showed the risk was higher of catching COVID than taking the vaccine.

Friday the UK government was still planning to have all of Briish adults vaccinated by the end of July.

For the family of 59 year old British man Neil Astles who had passed away from a blood clot within hours of receiving an AstaZeneca jab this was all too real and yet still his sister Dr Alison Astles urged people to get vaccinated. 

Covid: Canada authorises Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 - BBC  News

With a significant change to the number of Australians who would get the AstraZeneca jab an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer jab were secured by the Australian government.
That meant there would be 40 million doses of Pfizer delivered by December and 51 million doses of Novavax jab arriving from July onwards once it was approved and 25 million doses under the COVAX scheme.
That was something like 169 million vaccine doses for a country that had a population of 25 million.
There have only been one million Pfizer vaccines delivered to Australia so far.
There was no doubt that the roll out of the vaccine in Australia had suffered a significant setback. How this would play out remained to be seen.
One more thing Friday night it was reported that Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh had passed away. I know a lot of people will have opinions about the Royal Family. I did admire Prince Phillip for his service in World War II and for his sense of service to his wife and family. You can read into that what you will.
When your wife after a lifetime of marriage says you have been her strength and stay throughout all those years – you know you will have done something right.
Vale Sweet Prince.
-Lloyd Marken
ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 07, 2020 
April 09, 2020.

COVID-19 DIARY – EASTER 2021

April 02

Good Friday.

I was not sure how long it would take for me to get my tests. I had in the past gotten tested first thing in the morning and received a result twelve hours later late in the morning via text but testing numbers were much higher currently.

As it was, at 4:01pm I received a text from Queensland Health advising “Your test for COVID-19 from 02/04/2021 was NEGATIVE.”

I was never really expecting anything else but it was a relief of course.

To me you didn’t wear a mask to protect yourself – you wore it to protect others.

You didn’t get tested because you were paranoid of getting the virus but of passing it on to others.

You didn’t isolate out of fear for your safety but out of concern for the safety of others.

That is why I got tested and that is why I was not going to see anyone over the Easter weekend.

The negative result though did give Karen freedom to go out if she needed to as per health guidelines.

There were no new commmunity cases reported the morning of Good Friday.

April 04

Easter Sunday I was very fortunate, my parents drove over from the other side of town and delivered Karen and I hotboxes of the family Easter lunch. I expected it to be left outside our place but my Dad walked it to our door. We met both wearing masks and I took the box off him.

It was very kind and very delicious.

In the news there was talk of the new Brazilian strain which was taking off in places as far away as Canada.

The median age of patients The strain was up to 150 per cent more infectious than the original COVID as opposed to the U.K. strain was up to 70 per cent more infectious.

The P1 could be the variant that is the big troublemaker for the next surge,” U.S. Epidemilogist Eric Fiegl-Ding said.

The average age of people hospitalised in Brazil last year was 65 – now doctors estimates is now around 37.

Here was an earlier report from Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the 23rd of January.

April 06

Tuesday I worked from home, during the day I called the Prince Charles Hospital and was assured that the Fever Clinic would be open when I left after work that night.

So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived to this.

It was now just after 5pm as I scrambled for another nearby site after work to get tested. If the Prince Charles had correctly informed me that they would be closed then I would have made other arrangements.

I fortunately found a nearby Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology at my local medical centre that was closing at 6pm.

I arrived to a nearly closed centre just in time and the nurse kindly performed the test for me and someone else it appeared.

I received a slightly different text from SNP than the one Queensland Health sends.

At 2:37pm the next day advising ” RESULT: COVID-19 virus NOT DETECTED.”

In the news Tuesday night there was talk a new TransTasman Bubble that had long been touted by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Now it was happening.

I wondered given our recent snap lockdowns what the upside was for New Zealand and while it was not being discussed openly I had to imagine there had to be an economic factor here.

Either way this would be good news for many on both sides of the Tasman sea and one that caused anxiety for others but it was happening either way.

On the 6th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 131,531,981 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 453,834.

There had been 2,859,469 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 6,819.

In New Zealand there had been 2,168 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17. There had been 26 deaths.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 7,406 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 368. There had been 67 deaths with a daily increase of six.

In Australia there had been 29,357 confirmed cases with a daily increase of nine. There had been 909 deaths.

In Ireland there had been 238,466 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 318. There had been 4,718 deaths. Their recent surge over Christmas well over for now.

In Canada there had been 1,008,106 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,448. Just the day before the country had reached more than 1 million cases with 1,001,658. There had been 23,075 deaths with a daily increase of 25.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,356,334 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2237. There had been 126,862 deaths with a daily increase of 26.

In India there had been 12,686,049 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 96,982! There had been 165,547 with a daily increase of 446.

Brazil hits 82,000 Covid deaths in April, new monthly record

In Brazil there had been 12,984,956 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 31,359. There had been 331433 deaths with a daily increase of 1,240. As mentioned in a previous post, on March 27th the country had reported their highest number of new daily cases with 100,158. The country recorded its highest daily number of deaths on the 10th of April with 4,249.

In the United States of America  30,413,124 with a daily increase of 41,108. There had been 551,769 deaths with a daily increase of 378.

I was back at work, able to go back out in the community, having been able to get tested.

In a few weeks I would a meal with my family having missed them at Easter and even earlier catch up with friends.

Other people had a much worse Easter and no such lovely events in the weeks ahead. I am very lucky.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 02, 2020. 

Captain Brett Crozier relieved of his command of the COVID stricken U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt marched down the gangplank to the cheers of his 5,000 crew who knew he had put their lives first by urging an evacuation of the ship while it was docked in Guam. 

April 04, 2020.

A year earlier the World Health Organisation reported the number of cases in the world had crossed one million with 1,056,157 cases.

April 06, 2020.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

There were 743 active cases in Queensland recorded a year ago. There were now 70 active cases a year later to the day.

COVID-19 DIARY – GAME OVER – END OF THE FOURTH QUARTER

Byron Bay Area - Accommodation, Maps, Attractions & Events

March 31

Wednesday and there was one new case in hotel quarantine in Queensland and only two new community cases and both were linked to recent cases.

The Blues Festival was cancelled in Bryon Bay for the second year running.

A PA nurse and her housemate but she never had contact to a returned traveller from India that she was linked to. This prompted further questions about how the disease might be spreading in the environment of the hospital.

The nurse had gone to hens party in Byron Bay over the weekend with ten people and an eleventh – a male entertainer. The entertainer and six of the ten guests had now tested positive.

The nurse had not worked directly with a returned traveller with COVID that her infection was linked to after genomic testing.

We just need to work out how she got it on that ward. There is most likely some environmental contamination or some aerosolisation of the virus when the person was admitted. So that’s why that ward has been closed. No-one is going in or out of that ward,” advised Dr Jeanette Young.

The nurse had been given the first dose of the vaccine on March 19.

The Health Minister Yvette D’Ath got a COVID testing following having a sore throat.

A 20 year old man tested positive in Byron Bay.

Music festival to go ahead in NSW town on alert for COVID-19 - NewsFinale

More than 33,000 people get tested including Health Minister Yvette D’Ath after having a sore throat.

The Premier indicated if the numbers were similar tomorrow there was a good chance the lockdown would end on Thursday evening.

The fact we do not have any unlinked community transmission in the south-east or in our state is absolutely encouraging. Fingers crossed all will be looking good for Easter. If we see very good testing rates across Queensland and we don’t see any unlinked community transmission, the signs for Easter are looking positive.,” the Premier said.

One hundred and fourteen residents and staff at TriCare Mermaid Beach aged care residency on the Gold Coast had been tested and all returned negative results advised federal health minister Greg Hunt. This was following news that a contractor had done work at the facility and later tested positive.

Cases as far travelled as Bryon Bay, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Gladstone. Two patients with COVID in the Gold Coast University Hospital, one in Toowoomba hospital and one in Bundaberg hospital.

Since the pandemic had started there had been 1,571 cases in Queensland, seven deaths and 2,485,240 tests had been carried out.

There were now 20 active cases in the state.

For the government the indications were if the numbers held the three day lockdown would be enough.

In January Prime Minister Scott Morrison had put forward the goal of having four million vaccinations carried out by the end of March.

On the eve of reaching that timeframe there was bound to be talk of the fact that the target had not been reached – not even close at 670,349 doses admnistered.

There were not even 4 million doses in the country yet which may be the crucial issue. There had been 3.8 million doses ordered to arrive during this timeframe and instead only 700,000 had. We were up to just under 50,000 doses a day.

It was looking highly unlikely an earlier stated goal of everyone receiving their first dose by the end of October would transpire.

Agricultural Minister David Littleproud put some of the problems at the state level when being interviewed on Channel 9 News.

We have made it very clear to them, have confidence in the supply chain — we have plenty coming through, you cannot leave them in the rack, you’ve got to put them in people’s arms,” he argued.

“They have done three-fifths of bugger all.”

ABC The Drum - @ABCthedrum Twitter Analytics - Trendsmap

This started a war of words between state and federal leaders of all political persuasions.

“Queensland is releasing its vaccine numbers every day. We do not see that from the federal government. If the states are releasing their figures every day I think it’s only fair, fair and reasonable, that the federal government releases their figures every day. We need to have guaranteed supply and we need to have guaranteed times of delivery,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Queensland had completed 89% of 1A vaccinations for frontline workers.

Pfizer vaccines were being used there which required a second dose to be given three weeks later.

We do have to make sure that if we give the first dose that we can give the second dose. Although the Commonwealth has done their best to try and assure us that we would get those second doses, at the same time we’re getting information that supply is not progressing as we had hoped,” advised Dr Young.

For a change New South Wales and Queensland Premier were of a similar opinion.

What is extremely unfair is that when we are given 24 or 48 hours notice about how many new doses we’re getting. As you can appreciate, disseminating that within 24 hours or 48 hours is a difficult task. I want to put the facts on the table because it’s so important for us to not only vaccinate as many people as soon as possible, but also to make the vaccine available through multiple channels,” said New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the report was misleading. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

There is no point in delivering something to us a day ago or two day ago and saying you haven’t rolled them out. I am as angry as I have ever been in this 15 months of war against this virus, said New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

“Let’s get this really, really clear: The NSW government was asked to roll out 300,000 vaccinations to the groups in 1A and 1B. Of that we have done 100,000,” he said.

“The Federal Government was asked and is responsible for 5.5 million people and they have rolled out 50,000. I think the figures speak for themselves.”

“It’s a big job, we’re all doing it, the states and territories are doing it for their frontline workers, we’re doing it through the GP rollout,” advised Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1z8BdDqsOM

A year on from when the pandemic started to sweep the west. Back then we put into actions and waited to see how the first quarter would play out with our health care systems, our supplies, our economies, our way of live and our loved ones.

There have now been four such quarters. A full game if you and game two in the series had kicked off.

Where will this all end and on many people’s mind is maybe how and when?

How many people will die, lose their jobs and businesses, lose their health and when will this threat be out of our lives completely or at least greatly diminished.

We got the vaccine, this year will reveal if that is a game changer and a temporary or ongoing one. They say doctors live in the future, maybe they know.

I know that I do not.

But I remain grateful for all the good fortune I have been a recipient of, I look to do what little I can to help the less fortunate and to take solace in friends, families, some moments of joy and the idea that deeds however small matter. That if we can help each other and think of each other we will have the means to get through this.

It is not over but the first match in the series is.

As we close it, here is a little update.

On the 31st of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported 127,905,155 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 526,819.

There had been 2,798,278 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,047.

Region March 2021

WHO Continents end of March

WHO Continents 2 end of March21

Australia end of march 2021.jpg

In Australia there had been 29,296 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 909 deaths.

China end of March21

In the People’s Republic of China where the virus had originated in Wuhan it was reported there had been 102,734 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 4,851 deaths.

Canada end of march 2021.jpg

In Canada there had been 971,715 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,311. There had been 22,900 deaths with a daily increase of 20. WIth over four million vaccinations Canada was starting to see an uptick in case numbers.

Iran end of March21

In Iran one of the first countries hit hard by the virus had suffered greatly in subsequent waves over the past year and another wave was coming. There had been 1,875,234 confirmed cases with a daily increase 10,250. There had been 62,569 deaths with a daily increase of 91.

6-12 end of march 2021.jpg

Poland end of March21

In Poland there had been 2,321,717 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 32,891. There had been 53,045 deaths with a daily increase of 653. The next day they reported 35,253 new cases, their highest recorded daily increase of cases. A week later on April 8 956 deaths were reported in one day, the highest daily record of new deaths due to the virus.

Colombia end of March 2021

In Colombia there had been 2,389,779 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,049. There had been 63,079 deaths with a daily increase of 124. The population of Colombia was 50 million.

Germany end of March 2021

In Germany there had been 2,808,873 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17,051. There had been 76,342 deaths with a daily increase of 249.

Spain end of March 2021

In Spain there had been 3,282,047 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,202. There had been 76,424 deaths with a daily increase of 76. Spain was one of only nine countries that had reported more than 3 million cases at this point.

Turkey end of March 2021

In Turkey there had been 3,277,880 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 37,303. There had been 31,385 deaths with a daily increase of 155. As you can see above, cases were dramatically on the rise in the country.

Italy end of March 2021

In Italy there had been 3,561,012 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,055. There had been 108,879 deaths with a daily increase of 529.

Top 6 end of march 2021.jpg

UK end of march 2021.jpg

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,338,385 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,995. Thre had been a dramatic fall in new daily cases but only in the context of the recent devastating wave. In March last year when the virus shook the world, Britain reported 4,262 new daily cases on the 1st of April, 2020 for example. There had been 126,670 deaths with a daily increase of 55. Great Britain was one of only six countries that had reported more than four million cases.

Russia end of March 2021

In Russia there had been 4,545,095 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,275. There had been no let up in the daily death rates in the the country. There had been 98,850 deaths with a daily increase of 408.

France end of March 2021

In France there had been 4,510,870 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 29,575. There had been 94,763. deaths with a daily increase of 361. On the 5th of April there would be 66,794 new daily cases. Only one day recorded a higher increase in daily cases in the country and that was 86,794 on the 8th of November 2020.

India end of march 2021.jpg

In India there had been 12,149,335 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 53,480. There had been 162,468 deaths with a daily increase of 354. I am writing this on the 7th of May and the dramatic rise of cases has played out in a tragic way. It had already started here. India, Brazil and the United States of America are the only three countries that have reported more than 10 million cases in the world.

Brazil end of March 2021

In Brazil there had been 12,573,615 with a daily increase of 38,927. There had been 313,866 deaths with a daily increase of 1,660. On March 27th the country had reported their highest number of new daily cases with 100,158. The country recorded its highest daily number of deaths on the 10th of April with 4,249.

US end of march 2021.jpg

In the United States of America they reached more than 30 million cases with 30,033,063 with a daily increase of 64,599. There had been 545,051 deaths with a daily increase of 621. No country had suffered more than America this past year and new that over 135 million vacccine doses had been dispensed was cause for celebration but the daily new case numbers there were still high.

We were about to find out what protection the vaccine would grant against new strains and a new subsequent wave when it came.

I hoped it would be promising news.

I hope the worst of this is behind us.

It would come to be that that was not the case for India and others.

But we play on.

It is all we can do.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 31, 2020

Globally we passed over 750,000 confirmed cases and reached 36,522 dead.

On a more heartening note Karen became the Teddy Bear Lady in our local neighbourhood.

COVID-19 DIARY – UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

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

March 14

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

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

Although let’s unpack that a little.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 16

Speaking of second shots of Pfizer.

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

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

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

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

Good news given the PA case.

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

Tensions between state and federal government consultation were raised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spain had suspended use for two weeks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 18

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

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

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

There were significant national politics at play here.

Britain had recently left the European Union.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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March 19

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

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

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

Poland had never stopped.

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

March 20

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

France was back in lockdown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 19, 2020.

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

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

Tasmania became the first Australian state to close its borders.

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

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

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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