Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton (Image: AAP/Darren England)

A coronavirus vaccine trial will kick off this week in the UK after malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was found to do more harm than good for coronavirus patients.

Australia’s biggest trading partner China has taken offence at ministers’ calls for an inquiry into their response to the pandemic, labelling the rhetoric “propaganda”, which seems, well, a bit rich. 

China accuses Australia of propaganda

China has accused Australia of being part of a propaganda war, after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton called for more transparency around its response to the pandemic. 

“These days, certain Australian politicians are keen to parrot what those Americans have asserted and simply follow them in staging political attacks on China,” a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Canberra said

“High-level [US] officials have been spreading anti-China ‘information virus’. Their aim is to shift blame and deflect attention by smearing China.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has also expressed her support for an independent inquiry into China’s handling of COVID-19. 

The US state of Missouri has launched a lawsuit against China for their handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Missouri Attorney-General Eric Schmitt is seeking funds for “the enormous loss of life, human suffering, and economic turmoil experienced by all”.

Coronavirus drug’ does more harm than good

Hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug touted by US President Donald Trump as a potential treatment for coronavirus, does more harm than good, according to a large analysis in the US. 

Of 386 patients treated with the drug in veteran hospitals, 28% died as opposed to 11% who didn’t receive the drug. Hydroxychloroquine made no difference in the need for a ventilator, and may damage other organs. 

Trump had previously encouraged coronavirus patients to try the drug, asking “what do you have to lose?” 

Hydroxychloroquine has also been prescribed in Australia by doctors, against the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC). 

Virgin screwed by the virus

Virgin Australia has collapsed into voluntary administration after the Morrison government rejected multiple bailout proposals. 

“The government was not going to bail out five large foreign shareholders with deep pockets who together own 90% of this airline,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

More than 10 companies have reportedly expressed interest in buying the airline. The buyer will determine how many employees lose their jobs, where Virgin flies and what it will lose of its fleet. Virgin employs 10,000 people locally, and about another 6000 indirectly.

Others have warned a Qantas monopoly risks higher fares for passengers. 

Ruby Princess ordered to set sail

The Ruby Princess cruise ship is still docked off Port Kembla in NSW, with the Border Force Commissioner directing the ship to leave Australian waters by tomorrow. 

Yesterday, 57 crew members were escorted off the ship with some flying home, while the remaining workers are expected to set sail to the Philippines.

The ship has been linked to at least 21 deaths in Australia, with 40 COVID-19-positive crew members still on board. The crew has been in quarantine for over a month. 

Vaccine on trial 

A human coronavirus vaccine trial will start this week in the UK, with production of the vaccine likely to start even before the trial is complete.

The vaccine has been developed by scientists at Oxford University and a separate team at Imperial College in London, who will receive £42.5 million (A$83.17 million) to support their clinical trials.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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