Friday, April 09, 2021

Blood clots stall vaccine rollout

Australia’s vaccine rollout has been thrown into further disarray after federal authorities on Thursday night announced a pivot away from the AstraZeneca vaccine over links to extremely rare blood clots. Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, flanked by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the evening press conference, said that an expert medical taskforce had determined that most Australians aged under 50 are advised to take the Pfizer vaccine instead. The blood clot syndrome is more common in that age group, while the dangers of Covid-19 are elevated for over 50s. The risk of death from the blood clots from the vaccine (a link that is yet to be definitively proven) is estimated at roughly about one in 750,000, while Covid-19 has already killed one in 600 Americans. The directive is advice only and people can consult with their doctor about which vaccine is most suitable, with those who have had their first AstraZeneca jab without a reaction encouraged to have their second. A meeting of National Cabinet today will examine how far back this pushes the timetable of the vaccine rollout, which largely relied on the production of 50 million AstraZeneca vaccines in Melbourne. 

Former Business Council of Australia president and gas executive Grant King has been appointed to overhaul the Climate Change Authority, reports The Australian Financial Review. King, the former long-serving chief executive of Origin Energy, is a supporter of unproven carbon capture and storage (CCS) for fossil fuels. A government-instigated review headed by King into emissions-reduction policies last year controversially recommended the funding remits of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation be expanded to allow investments in CCS. The Climate Change Authority, which has been wound back since the Coalition came to power, could be set to play a more prominent role again as Australia comes under pressure to set a zero emissions target for 2050 ahead of intergovernmental climate talks in November in Glasgow.

Spanish scientists have discovered drugs used to lower cholesterol in humans could help delay the spread of the deadly Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). The research findings, published in the journal Cell Reports, found tumour cells required a minimum amount of cholesterol to multiply. If cholesterol synthesis was drastically reduced, the tumours did not grow. It is hoped the breakthrough could help protect the endangered marsupials from extinction. The research findings might also have implications for malignant and highly aggressive cancers in humans.

In a series of executive actions, United States President Joe Biden has moved to limit homemade “ghost guns” and pistol stabilising braces that allow the weapons to be used more accurately. He has also moved to make it easier for people to flag family members who should not be allowed to buy firearms, and announced he is nominating David Chipman, a gun control advocate, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Biden has faced pressure from Democrats and gun control activists to take action to address gun violence in the wake of recent shootings in Georgia, Colorado and California.

Scott Morrison’s vaccine shambles
The federal government promised that by the end of March four million Australians would be vaccinated against Covid-19 but as of this week we’ve barely hit a quarter of that target. Today, Paul Bongiorno on whether Scott Morrison is doing enough to vaccinate the country.

“Last week, Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria ended their rental moratoriums. They were the last states to do so. Their state governments scrambled to introduce transitional legislation to curb an increase in evictions, and to keep in place some protections for renters for after the end of the moratorium ... But for many, it was too little, too late. The evictions had already begun.”

“Texture in salad is key. For me, the point of these kinds of salads is to lift the rest of the dishes served in a set by providing freshness. And the key to freshness is that hydrating crunch. On paper, this list of ingredients sounds at odds, but the missing link is the surface area provided by crushing the cucumber. If we simply slice the cucumber, the surface area doesn’t hold the dressing as well as it does when crushed. Those little jagged edges make the dressing pool, so the balance of the dressing is all the more important.”

“It’s so exciting you’re here to stay. I remember when I was the new one. A lifetime ago. You’re going to love it here. Our friend is so amazing. All friends are… Well, almost all. But ours is the best. When I was new there was an old one already here. They were lovely, so kind. They taught me everything I needed to know: where to go, how to ask for in and out, what kind of games to play until I came up with some of my own. Then they and our friend played those games with me. I was so proud.”

“The federal government will amend the Sex Discrimination Act to include politicians and judges, who have previously been exempt from the laws. More than a year after receiving the [email protected] report, the government has announced it will adopt the 55 recommendations either in full, in part or in principle. Of the 55 it has agreed to 40, agreed in principle to five, agreed in part to one and noted nine.”

“This, however, falls significantly short of a commitment to fully implement all 55 recommendations put forth by Jenkins. For the roadmap to respond effectively to her damning findings, it must deliver radical change to ensure workplace equality in reality.”

“Foremost in the coroner’s findings was a recommendation that Victoria’s public drunkenness laws be repealed, similarly called for by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody three decades earlier. And yet, despite promising to change the law before the coroner’s inquiry even began, the Victorian government has still not introduced any legislation into parliament to do so.”

“Were you in Australia in 1965, and did you help a homesick Welsh man to mail himself home in a wooden crate? If so, he wants to hear from you. Brian Robson was just 19 when two Irish friends helped him to climb into a crate so that he could airmail himself from Melbourne to London ... He bought a wooden crate the size of a mini-fridge and booked his slot with Qantas. The Irish pair helped to harness him into the crate and nail it shut. It was a tight fit as it also contained his suitcase and pillows as well as a flashlight and a book of Beatles songs to keep him company.”

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.