Scott Morrison covid-19 astrazeneca vaccine
(Image: AAP/POOL/David Caird)

A STICKING POINT

The Morrison government has accepted advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation that Pfizer should be the preferred COVID-19 vaccine for people under 50 (who have not already safely received the first AstraZeneca shot), with Guardian Australia explaining that the AstraZeneca vaccine will come with a warning that people under 50 may face extremely rare but potentially deadly blood clots.

In an evening press conference, chief medical officer Paul Kelly emphasised that the incidence of blood clots from AstraZeneca is extremely rare — averaging four to six cases per million vaccine recipients — but the complication can cause a death rate of up to 25%.

AstraZeneca will only be provided to those under 50 when it is clear the benefits outweigh the risks, with Kelly adding that, considering ATAGI’s advice is based on Australia’s current situation, it could change if Australia sees another substantial outbreak.

PS: Note that the UK has, as the BBC explains, only limited AstraZenaca from those under 30. The article also explains that while the drug’s incidence rate for blood clots is similar to the contraceptive pill — or even “far greater” for the pill — current data does not create a “like for like” comparison.

VACCINE A MILE OFF

While the government is still working through how ATAGI’s advice will impact Australia’s rollout, Scott Morrison was not able to guarantee that every Australian will now be vaccinated by the end of the year; 50 million AstraZeneca doses produced at CSL’s Melbourne factory was the centrepiece of Australia’s supply. The advice also noted the safety concern would increase vaccine hesitancy and delay the rollout.

As the ABC explains in its guide to how the announcement impacts Australia’s rollout, the Pfizer vaccine cannot be produced locally which means all doses will need to be imported. The Morrison government has only secured 20 million doses, enough for 10 million people. Health department secretary Brendan Murphy noted it will however become easier to skew the remaining doses to those under 50s in category 1B, such as those with underlying medical conditions, as aged care vaccinations finish up.

Only AstraZeneca and Pfizer currently have approvals and supply in Australia, although Murphy said the approval process for a third candidate, Novavax, is advanced and that Australia has contracts for 51 million doses. However, The Sydney Morning Herald’s columnist Rob Harris notes that it will be at least four months until Novavax arrives in Australia.

In response to last night’s press conference, Western Australia’s chief health officer Dr Andrew Robertson announced the state’s rollout will immediately change and the AstraZeneca vaccine is only to be given to people over the age of 50, with appointments for all others cancelled.

PS: Following a federal-state tit-for-tat over states and territories stocking up on their allocated drugs, The Age reports that Victoria had to dip into its back-up supply of AstraZeneca to ensure people with appointments were not being turned away as federal deliveries arrived consistently late.

PPS: Harris’ piece also notes that critics and Labor warned the government last year about putting “too many eggs in the one basket”, and Anthony Albanese has echoed this argument in his response to last night’s news.

INQUEST INTO INDIGENOUS DEATH IN CUSTODY

Finally, the ABC reports that a North Queensland inquest has heard that an Indigenous man who died in police custody on February 10, 2018 received “sub-optimal” treatment from paramedics.

Specifically, the man was allegedly not properly assessed because he was unconscious while handcuffed on the ground and in poor light, and an ambulance officer then instructed a police constable to perform CPR.

The news comes follows news on Monday of a fifth Indigenous death in custody within the space of four weeks, with Junkee noting a national day of protest planned tomorrow in the Eora (Sydney) and Naarm (Melbourne) nations.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

[to head of the Australian Christian Lobby Martyn Iles]: I have no intention of repenting being gay. I’m wondering where you think that’s going to leave me when I leave this mortal coil?

Trent Zimmerman

Ringing in a 13-year tradition for Q+A, the Liberal MP and Australia’s first openly LGBTIQ member of the House of Representatives gets to respectfully debate his humanity with a lobby group dedicated, apparently solely, to queerphobia.

CRIKEY RECAP

A list of things Peter Dutton says we shouldn’t talk about to avoid being threatened with defamation

“Defence Minister Peter Dutton has issued defamation threats to a number of social media users who labelled him a ‘rape apologist’ after he made dismissive comments about Brittany Higgins.

“Dutton has targeted a wide range of people with letters from his lawyers, from unemployed Twitter users to prominent politicians including Greens Senator Larissa Waters (who later apologised).

“We shouldn’t be surprised. This is the same man who in 2016 demanded a photo of him lurking in the shadows be removed from the internet. In typical internet fashion, that demand resulted in a flurry of photoshopped images of him as Pennywise and Hannibal Lecter.”


Julie Bishop has questions to answer about her relationship with collapsed financier Greensill

“As the fallout from the Greensill collapse continues, threatening to send the Whyalla steelworks into administration, the silence from those spruiking its products is becoming deafening.

“In the UK, David Cameron is being relentlessly pursued by the media and opposition members over his role in lobbying the government on behalf of the doomed lender, owned by Australian entrepreneur Lex Greensill.

“But not so of the lobbyists doing Greensill’s work here, who have so far gotten off scot-free.”


Why Labor gets to run the trains — or, just how cocked-up are the state Liberal parties?

“For the Marshall government in South Australia the threatened collapse of the Whyalla steelworks couldn’t have come at a worse time. Actually, all times for the collapse of remaining industry in that rust bucket of a state are pretty bad, and not merely because they summon up the ghost of Craig Emerson singing ‘no Whyalla wipeout’.

“Ah, you hadn’t thought of that for a while had you? Sorry, but if it’s going to be in my head, it has to be in yours.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Sydney desalination plant churning out water even as dams remain full

Six men to be accused of sex acts in Parliament House, as part of desk masturbation video investigation

New school projects driven by election promises over priorities: Auditor-General

Andrew Laming investigation: electoral commission wants information from Facebook

Christian Porter rape accuser requested Skype interview with police

Malcolm Turnbull accuses John Barilaro of ‘gaslighting’ with claim air quality data is manipulated

Rare clash of tropical tempests expected off WA coast ‘like two planets going close to each other’

Antarctic blast to bring cold weather, rain and snow to south-eastern Australia

Workplace sexual harassment reforms ‘unfair to employers’ ($)

Landmark case could end Biden’s student debt prison

Dozens still missing in Indonesian floods, landslides

UK setting up $77m fund to help fleeing Hong Kong migrants settle down

THE COMMENTARIAT

The government’s ‘roadmap’ for dealing with sexual harassment falls short. What we need is radical change — Emma Golledge, Dianne Anagnos, Madeleine Causbrook and Sean Bowes (The Conversation): “Following intense public pressure, the Morrison government has finally responded to the report with a plan entitled, ‘A Roadmap for Respect: Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces’. The roadmap recognises the importance of a preventative approach to stop sexual harassment before it occurs. It also expresses agreement (either in full, in part or in principle) or ‘notes’ the recommendations in the [email protected] report.”

Defence Minister Peter Dutton proves he has the right stuff ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “Defence Minister Peter Dutton is absolutely right to assure our service men and women of the government’s overwhelming support and to ask them to prioritise their main job, the application of military force in the defence of Australia and Australia’s interests. Can this really be true?”

Why Morrison’s ‘She’ll be Right’ vaccination model is failing on so many levelsGarry Linnell (The New Daily): “If the federal Opposition was not so divided and confused about what it stands for and who it should be representing, Scotty’s ‘She’ll Be Right’ vaccination program, with its lack of transparency and focus on marketing rather than substance, would guarantee automatic dismissal from government at the next election. It’s also a reminder about why so many of our state leaders have achieved unprecedented levels of confidence over the past 12 months — and where the real strength now lies within the federation.”

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