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 – DONKEYS FOR LIONS

Boris Johnson told to 'get Brexit plan B' | News | The Times

May 27

Thursday.

On the other side fo the world and a Wednesday, Dominic Cummings the former Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister of Great Britain Boris Johnson gave testimony at a parliamentary inquiry about the handling of the COVID pandemic.

What was said in those seven hours if proven true was pretty damning.

What was claimed or confirmed Cummings mostly related to behind closed door meetings and briefings where debate can be debated and remarks can be flip.

But still…

Johnson compared COVID to swine flu and suggested he be injected live on television with it to prove it wasn’t dangerous.

Was distracted about developments in Italy with his divorce and announcement of his partner’s pregnancy.

A senior civil servant likened COVID-19 to chicken pox and floated mass infection parties to build herd immunity.

Johnson quipped COVID was only killing over 80s.

Expressed regret over the first lockdown and said he would rather see the bodies pile in their thousands than order a second lockdown.

When asked if Johnson was fit to hold office, the man who was a key part of the team that saw him win power replied “No.”

Cummings was even harder on Health Secretary Matt Hancock who he said had told cabinet members that people being transferred from hospitals to nursing home were being tested prior to being transported but it didn’t happen.

“While the government rhetoric was we have put a shield around care homes and blah blah blah, it was complete nonsense,” he said.

Cummings advised the Prime Minister to get rid of Hancock otherwise we are going to kill people but he didn’t. Perhaps for political reasons.

In his testimony Cummings relayed two central points about the government initial plan – that herd immunity through spread was a key strategy and that the British public wouldn’t stand for lockdowns.

Those two assumptions were completely central to the official plan and were both obviously completely wrong,” Cummings said.

He told that during the pandemic civil servant Helen McNamara came to him and said, “I think we are absolutely f—ed. I think this country is heading for a disaster, I think we are going to kill thousands of people.

Cummings left government last year during a power struggle and also created controversy around himself when he seemingly broke lockdown rules last year when travelling from London to northern England while he had COVID!

What I find remarkable in this day and age with the news is how we just don’t know the answer for things for certain.

Did he break lockdown with COVID or not?!

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in Parliament the same day, “The handling of this pandemic has been one of the most difficult things this country has had to do for a very long time. And none of the decisions have been easy. At every stage we have tried to minimise loss of life, to protect the NHS and have followed the best scientific advice we can.

So was this political revenge from a former staffer?

Or somebody who had nothing to lose now?

Why didn’t he do more he was asked when he was there in government?

There’s no doubt in retrospect it was a huge failing of mine and I bitterly regret I didn’t hit the emergency panic button earlier than I did. I failed and I apologise for it,” he said.

“I’m not smart, I’ve not built great things in the world, it’s completely crackers that I was in [Downing Street], the same as it’s crackers that Boris Johnson was in there,” Cummings said.

“Any system that leaves people with the choice between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn is obviously a system that’s gone extremely badly wrong. There are thousands of people in this country who could offer better leadership than those two.”

I don’t have the answers but from my limited perspective in March last year Johnson struck a intransigent tone.

On March 13, 2020 as the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced restrictions to start on the 16th of March there would be no mass gatherings of 500 people or more after the weekend. , in the UK the Cheltenham racing festival was in full swing with the Cheltenham Gold Cup held on the 13th of March with over 68,500 attending.

Amid a global pandemic, Cheltenham Festival surviving all four ...

In the United States of America President Trump had announced a restriction on travel between Europe and the U.S. with the exception of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. 

On the 13th of March there were 802 cases in total reported in the United Kingdom. Over a quarter of those had just been reported that day – 208. There were two new deaths leading to a total of 10.

On March 18, the Australian government issued its highest travel advice level (level 4), advising Australians to avoid all travel regardless of destination, age and health.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a press conference announcing new restrictions which included only two visitors to aged care homes and a ban on indoor gatherings of 100 people or less with certain exceptions like schools, supermarkets and exceptions.

The World Health Organisation reports 2,630 cases in the UK that day with a daily increase of 676. The death toll almost doubles that day with a daily increase of 43 taking the total past 100 to 103.

How Clean Air Cities Could Outlast COVID-19 Lockdowns

On the 23rd of March, 2020 the UK government announced restrictions with people only able to leave home for essential work or shopping, medical needs, or providing care for others. with exercise per day allowed. No public gatherings besides funerals and many forms of retail shut down.

On the 24th of March, 2020 in the United Kingdom there were 6,654 cases with a daily increase of 967. There were 335 deaths with a daily increase of 54.

On the 25th of March, 2020 the WHO reported March 26 in the United Kingdom9,533 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,452. The number of dead were 463 deaths with a daily increase of 41.

On the 31st of March, 2020 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland there were 22,145 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,619. The number of dead were 1,408 with a daily increase of 180.

COVID-19: U.K. calls on the engineering industry to produce ...

On the 11th of May, 2020 Boris Johnson announced a move from Stay Home to Stay Alert.

Allowing travel across the country and to go out to parks as long as you maintained social distancing.

People working in construction and manufacturing could also return to work because those jobs could not be done by home.

The leaders of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland urged their people to stay home still.

On the 11th of May, 2020 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland the World Health Organisation reported there were 219,187 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,923 on the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to lower restrictions.

The number of dead stood at 31,855 with a daily increase of 268.

On the 21st May, 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.

On the 31st of May, 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.

“I do not underestimate just how difficult it has been for you, staying at home for the last 10 weeks, and I want to pay tribute to your resilience,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

On the 31st of May, the World Health Organisation reported 272,830 confirmed cases in the United Kingdom with a daily increase of 1,604. The number of dead were 38,376 with a daily increase of 215.

Coronavirus: Grounded planes and deserted airport terminals - BBC News

On the 8th of June, 2020 the British government unveiled a quarantine plan for all returning travellers including British citizens to give their details and self isolate for the next 14 days.

The press was already reporting that Whitehall was looking at opening up travel to Europe again by mid-July.

On the 8th of June in the United Kingdom when these measures were put in place there had been 286,198 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,326.

The number of deaths 40,542 with a daily increase of 77.

From my limited perspective some of the actions taken by the UK government suggest a lack of awareness of the threat during this and later periods.

A priority on the economy over lives.

Herd immunity was even evoked by Johnson in some early press conferences. In comparison to other European countries the UK moved slower and less stridently on a consistent basis.

What Cummings has testified might be irrelevant, there is enough in confirmed actions to question.

An inquiry is scheduled to being next year.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 27th of May, 2021 in the United Kingdom there have been 4,470,301 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,987.
There had been 127,748 deaths with a daily increase of nine.

-Lloyd Marken

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 – ONE IN THREE?!

What Vaccines Should my Baby Get | What Vaccinations Should my Baby Have

May 19

Wednesday.

There was some back and forth between leaders about the proposed quarantine facility in Toowoomba, Queensland.

Who’s going to operate it? Where’s the workforce going to come from? Who’s running the infection control procedures or where is the security workforce coming from? All of this needs to be established,” Prime Mr Morrison had told ABC radio on Tuesday.

We will continue to put our case to the federal government, but it’s a bit rich cherry-picking which ones the federal government likes and which ones they don’t like. [Prime Minister Scott Morrison] doesn’t need any more detail … the threshold question here is are they going to allow flights to land into the airport, yes or no?” was the response from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk the next day.

While Queensland Oppositon Leader David Crisafulli noted, “It seems a little strange that Victoria, a government of the same political persuasion as here in Queensland, has been willing to release that to the Commonwealth.

Regardless further facilities like the one at Howard Springs would be useful for building capacity for taking on returned travellers and avoiding breakouts in capital cities.

Sydney Morning Herald and The Age ran a poll and reported that one in three Australians who had not been vaccinated were hesitant to get vaccinated.

The Prime Minister spun it into a postive about 70 per cent who wanted to get the jab.

“Let’s just get on with them,” Mr Morrison said.

There’s plenty of time to have the chat with the others who are a bit hesitant. That’s alright, it’s a free country and they should talk to their doctor. Those who are hardcore against it is a much smaller number – a much, much smaller number – but there are others who are open to the conversation and we will have that,” said the PM.

While one in three wouldn’t pony up a bare sleeve to save lives from a poll was the talk of the news broadcasters.

Actual news was a new record of 95,000 doses had been adminsitered in the past 24 hours in the country. We now sat at 3.28 million jabs performed.

The single biggest source of confidence any Australian can have is looking at their friends and family, their mum and dad, their grandma and grandpa being vaccinated,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.e told reporters in Brisbane.

There had been 18 rare blood clot cases in Australia from 1.8 million AstraZeneca vaccinations.

Those rates are very similar to what have been seen overseas but the difference here in Australia, the experts are saying, is that the cases appear to be more mild. They are speculating this is because there is high awareness here in Australia, physicians don’t have the huge strain of treating COVID-19 in our healthcare system, so they have been diagnosed earlier and managed really effectively with good outcomes,” Liz Chatwin, the president of AstraZeneca in Australia and New Zealand

Experts have reported there are 50 blood clots every day in Australia from a multitude of different causes, so that just underlines how rare this condition is,” she further added.

If Australians needed another reminder of reasons to get vaccinated they need look no further than India.

There bodies washed up in on the shore of the River Ganga.

Bodies also protruded through the sand of the shore where many had been buried.

The images were harrowing and revealed yet again the horror and scale of the loss being felt in the country at the moment.

On the 19th of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported the highest number of daily deaths in India with 4,529.

That took the total to 283,248 deaths.

There had been 25,496,330 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 267,334.

-Lloyd Marken

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 – HOW YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR MOST VULNERABLE

Gladys Berejiklian on Twitter: "What an amazing welcome from the staff at  the Endeavour Foundation warehouse in Seven Hills- the largest employer of  people with intellectual disability in Australia.… https://t.co/3oNHXjZtF9"

May 17

Monday.

I have talked previously about the fact that many people with disabilities were being left behind in the vaccine roll-out.

Now finally there was some media coverage thanks to one angry Mum named Margaret Ruff who had had enough.

Her son 45 year old Raymond who lives in a residential group home was still waiting for the jab.

This example struck close to home with regards to my older sister.

And now we had the stats.

Out of 26,000 people with disabilities living in care residences across Australia.

Only 999 had received a jab.

The country had moved to 2A of the vaccine rollout to get everybody over 50 vaccinated but at least 25,000 vulnerable people who fell under catergory 1A which started roll-out in February were still waiting for their jabs.

The disability royal commission heard from families today “Basically we’ve sort of been left on our own.

As at 15th of May, 2021 3,089,183 vaccine doses had been administered in the country wtih 32,386 in a the 24 hours leading up to that.

There were complications to be sure.

There had been 296,336 doses given to those in aged care and residentially disability facilities with 1,524 given in the past 24 hours

67,172 of those were doses administered had been in Queensland.

There were lots of things to complicate delivery of vaccines amongst those with disabilities and in aged care.

One was travel, you had to do and delivery at the residency and you weren’t going to do for one jab.

There was consent to be gained or established.

If they were underlying health conditions you had to get the go ahead from your Doctor or specialist which could take more time here.

You might need others on sight for those who would be anxious to get a needle without someone that put them at ease.

But allowing for all of that – it was absolutely piss poor what had occurred here.

We need to do better.

As Margaret Ruff put it, “It’s disgusting, it’s absolutely disgusting. How do you judge society, by the way they treat their ill and vulnerable.

With the India travel ban there had been renewed talk about how to improve our quarantine system in Australia.

In the news that week there was talk of using Bladin Point for overseas workers for Australian farms to be be quarantined. The facility currently did that for a U.S. Marine Rotational Force that trains in the Northern Territory during the dry season.

Thousands of US marines to touch down in Darwin before June 2021 - ABC News

“When those contracts finish then there is the opportunity to do further work there, particularly dealing with workforce requirements in the Territory,” he told reporters on Brisbane on Monday.

The Victorian government had also spent $15 million dollar to prepare for the construction of a 500 bed quarantine facility at Mickleham north of Melbourne. It would take $200 million to build but that was small change compared to the cost to the economy when a capital city or state goes into lockdown.

A proposal from Queensland to build at Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba to quarantine 1,000 travellers and be manned from 300 staff was rejected.

Increase in infrastructure could be the boom Toowoomba needs

The idea that you can just put these out in the desert somewhere, and I know Toowoomba’s not in the desert but the point being (that) they need to be close to a major capital city airport. The planes aren’t going somewhere else, they’re coming into Brisbane, and that is a very long trek over to Toowoomba,” said the Prime Minister.

Victoria has put a very comprehensive proposal to us, something we can actually work with, and we are. If they [the Queensland government] were to do that, then they could expect the same sort of hearing that the Victorian government’s getting,” the PM explained.

Howard Springs is 25 kilometres from Darwin.

Mickleham is 40 kilometres from Melbourne.

Victoria's Mickleham quarantine hub proposal site a surprise to most

Wellcamp Airport is 160 kilometres from Brisbane.

I wondered what were the factors that went into these decisions.

Previously remote locations had been ruled out because of lack of access to major health care facilities.

On the other hand the push was to mitigate all the pressure on hotel quarantines in major capital cities.

Some outbreaks had occurred following leaks from hotel quarantine staff being out in the community unknowingly infecitous.

But other outbreaks had occured when returned travellers had spent time in quarantine, tested negative and subsequently gone out in the community and been infectious.

Yet again other outbreaks had occured from hospital staff becoming infected.

In terms of distance Ipswich was 40 kilometres from Brisbane but also been part of a greater Brisbane lockdowns this year.

A recent lockdown in South East Queensland had seen cases spread as far as Byron Bay 165 kilometrest to the south and Gladstone 515 kilometres to the north.

So distance couldnt’ be the only factor here, available facilities, support and necessary staff and travel all had to be weighed up.

Furthermore it appeared these facilities were to augment not replace hotel quarantine.

Researchers at Griffith University in Queensland were working on an anti-viral drug which would seek out and destroy COVID-19 cells in an infected person’s lungs while leaving other cells unharmed.

The hope was the drug could be on the market in two years.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 17, 2020

Some national parks in Queensland had re-opened. Karen and I headed out on a Sunday drive, going to the Natural Bridge in Springfield National Park near the border of New South Wales.

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