covid-19 vaccine US america
(Image: AP/Mark Lennihan)

A MODERNA APPROACH

The US Food and Drug Administration has released new data that finds the Moderna vaccine is highly protective for adults and prevents severe cases of COVID-19, news that The New York Times explains means the agency is likely to grant emergency authorisation for use on Friday. It is worth noting that America saw deaths from COVID-19 exceed 300,000 this week — a caseload nearly 120,000 higher than the next worst-hit country, Brazil.

Moderna announced 94.5% efficacy of its candidate in November in first interim analysis of phase three results and could begin distribution just one week after the Pfizer-BioNTech drug began rolling out in America.

Canada also began vaccinations on Monday, where, according to CNN, Minister of Procurement Anita Anand said the country may hit less than half of Justin Trudeau’s pledge of 249,000 doses by December 31 following a “fiercely competitive” global scramble for early doses.

In other global COVID-19 news:

BOOST TO AGED CARE

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Morrison government will pledge $850 million for an extra 10,000 in-home care packages — a key recommendation in the aged care royal commission’s interim report — as part of Thursday’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Currently, more than 102,000 people are waiting for packages they have already been approved for, a waitlist the commission described as a “cruel and discriminatory system” that saw “alarming” numbers of older Australians dying while waiting or being prematurely forced into residential aged care.

The government says the new funding will see the total number of people currently receiving in-home care jump from about 152,000 to 195,000 by June 2021.

PS: According to the ABC, a five-year review into Medicare has found the “fee for service” model can reward inefficient or unnecessary services, and needs to adapt and evolve to meet changing standards of living.

THE BIG BAN THEORY

According to the ABC, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, has told a press conference the country’s alleged ban on Australian coal — first reported in state media — is both legal and responsible for domestic industries and consumers.

Wang further accused the Australian government of playing the victim, “constantly accusing and attacking China by innuendo”, after Scott Morrison described the reported ban as a “lose-lose situation” and argued that, if substantiated, it would breach World Trade Organisation rules and a bilateral free trade agreement.

PS: In a reminder that advocating the free market is more of a feeling than a consistent ideology, The Age reports that Josh Frydenberg has thrown his support behind an inquiry into banks divesting from fossil fuels, following pressure from Resources Minister Keith Pitt for an investigation led by climate denialist George Christensen.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

This project will be contributing to Australia achieving and beating our 2030 emissions reduction targets, without even having to draw on our carbon credits, which Australia rightfully earned through our overachievement of the Kyoto commitments.

Scott Morrison

Announcing funding for a pumped hydro site in Tasmania ($), the prime minister pats himself on the back for not having to cheat with made-up “credits” drawn from John Howard’s uniquely generous 2012/2020 targets to reach a 2030 target so low the Climate Action Tracker projects it would lead up to a 3 degree increase if implemented globally.

CRIKEY RECAP

The Mantra 60 should be freed from torture. Here’s why the Coalition won’t do it

“There’s no word on where they’re being sent, with Peter Dutton and the Morrison government showing every desire to disappear them into the system entirely — hence the recent failed attempt to deprive them of mobile phones.

“The regime has substantially been one of lockdown 23 hours a day, with little opportunity for exercise, access to nature, socialising, or much basic freedom to move around.”


What can we learn from rugby league’s rape trials? There has to be a better way

“The following article discusses sexual assault.

“Two high profile rugby league players (State of Origin heroes, no less). Two rape trials. Two hung juries. Probably not surprising that 2020 would deliver such a non-result, but it smacks of something more than coincidence that the cases of both Jack de Belin and Jarryd Hayne will have to go to retrial next year after their juries failed to reach a unanimous (12-0) or majority (11-1) verdict either way.”


Bye, bye, Donald. A special end of year message from the prime minister

“The United States and Australia have a special relationship and it’s one that Donald Trump and I share.

“At heart we are both marketing men. Maybe Donald’s taken it a bit too far, but as I’ve always said: whether it’s marketing, conning or criminal fraud, it’s just a matter of degree. We’re all trying to sell something — ourselves, principally.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

NSW severe wet weather continues for fifth day as people in Tweed, Northern Rivers told to evacuate

Refugees detained in Melbourne hotel ‘devastated’ as they await move to another site

Top special forces soldier steps down over leg-drink photo ($)

Malka Leifer, former Melbourne principal and accused child abuser, loses appeal against extradition from Israel to Australia

Australian Workers’ Union push for fruit pickers to be guaranteed minimum pay rate

Australians became more trusting of federal public services during pandemic: survey

Drugs in body no reason to strip-search: police watchdog

Anthony Pratt’s Visy wins $10m from Australia’s bushfire recovery fund

Distressed investors handed over $13m to missing woman Melissa Caddick

McConnell for the first time recognises Biden as President-elect

THE COMMENTARIAT

We’re all still deaf to the tragically unheard Aboriginal children ($) — Amos Aikman (The Australian): “Billions of dollars, hundreds of reports, dozens of inquiries and endless hand-wringing have done far less than is urgently needed to improve the lives of Aboriginal children living in remote parts of the Northern Territory. That is the stupefying finding of two coronial inquests into the likely preventable deaths of six Aboriginal kids. Yet the stupid thing about it is that no one in these places needed a coronial inquest to tell them that.”

No, this is not an episode of Yes Minister, it’s the Morrison government’s response to the mental health crisisIan Hickie (The Sydney Morning Herald): “At the end of one of the most challenging years we have ever faced in Australia in terms of our collective mental health, and following Prime Minister Morrison’s impassioned release of the long-awaited Productivity Commission report, many have asked what’s the government’s plan of actions for 2021? Well, it turns out that the answer is yet another inquiry!”

Vaccines alone won’t keep Australia safe in 2021. Here’s what else we need to doTania Sorrell, Ian Frazer and Ingrid Scheffer (The Conversation): “To avoid another surge in case numbers, it is crucial that we plan for the coming months as we head into 2021. Emerging evidence suggests the first-generation vaccines currently in clinical trials have a good chance of preventing SARS-CoV-2 related illness, but they are less likely to prevent infection with the virus altogether. This means it is unlikely current vaccines will adequately suppress viral transmission.”

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