Scott Morrison holds his second press conference of the day announcing changes to the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia.
Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly are currently facing the Canberra media over blood clot links to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Prof. Kelly announced that AstraZeneca will now be « avoided for those under 50 ». The Pfizer vaccine is the preferred vaccine for people under the age of 50.
Earlier, Mr Morrison had said the Australian government would wait for the country’s panel of experts to review new links between AstraZeneca and blood clots before making any further changes to the rollout.
« We’re dealing with something that affects people on the order of 1 to 5 per million, » said Morrison.
« I intend not to anticipate and speculate on decisions made by medical experts. That is what I plan to do. So I will wait for the advice to come and then we will allow that advice. » direct the government’s response. »
ATAGI and TGA experts meet today following a ruling that the Australian workhorse for coronavirus vaccines will not be given to anyone under the age of 30 in the UK after a « plausible link » was found in extremely rare cases of blood clots.
Mr Morrison said the results would be discussed with the Prime Ministers at Friday’s National Cabinet meeting.
He is also saddened that there are some « very positive benefits of the vaccination program » and they will provide further advice.
« My message to prime ministers and prime ministers this morning is the same as to Australians. We have the best people in the world studying these issues to give us the advice of a medical expert, » he said.
« Our government has always dealt with this pandemic and all health issues led by medical experts and advice and we will do that today and the decisions will follow. »
In the UK, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is only given to people aged 30 and over after the UK regulator for medicines and health products issued new recommendations.
The « vanishingly small » risk was enough to « correct course » in the UK after 79 reports of blood clots in people who received the AstraZeneca shock.
Germany has already restricted the AstraZeneca burst to people over 60, while Canada has stopped its use on people under 55. In France, the cans sit in fridges as the locals cancel appointments.
However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) noted that « the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks ». The UK, which vaccinated more than 31 million people with a first dose of a burst, including 20 million AstraZeneca doses, insisted the new council would not delay its introduction.
The head of the MHRA, Dr. June Raine said there was a « reasonably plausible » link between cases of blood clots, which occurred about four times per million doses, and the AstraZeneca surge.
« The evidence has accumulated not only in the number and types of cases, but also in the pattern of those cases, » she said.
England’s assistant chief physician, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said the number of blood clot cases was « vanishingly small ».
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has agreed to simplify the storage and transportation of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Australia – as health professionals in every country decide on the future of the highly competitive AstraZeneca sting.
The TGA today approved the storage and transportation of unopened vials of the vaccine at freezing temperatures of -25 to -15 degrees Celsius for up to two weeks.
This represents a major improvement in the logistics of administering the vaccine, which previously had to be stored at « ultra-cold » temperatures.
A temperature between -90 and -60 degrees Celsius is still required for long-term storage.
« Vials stored or transported in this way can also be returned to ultra-cold long-term storage within the original shelf life of the product, » it said in a statement.
The TGA added that unopened vials can also be stored for up to five days in household refrigerators between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.
« Within that five-day period, up to 12 hours can be used for transportation, » advised the TGA.
« However, the time required to transport unopened bottles at refrigerator temperatures is offset against the five-day limit for storage at 2 ° C to 8 ° C. »
The TGA added that the vaccine is diluted with saline before administration and the diluted vaccine can be stored or transported for up to six hours at room temperatures up to 30 degrees.
A young frontier worker in Auckland has tested positive for COVID, raising concerns the case could wreck the recently announced travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.
The 24-year-old man works at the Grand Millennium in Auckland and is coming after 23 new Covid cases were found in MIQ facilities today.
The Director General for Health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said the man had a sore throat four days ago. He wasn’t vaccinated.
The person lives alone, but Auckland Regional Public Health is investigating contacts with the man’s neighbors.
He’s traveling to work with a colleague who is being tested. The colleague was fully vaccinated.
The man was working at Easter but wasn’t at work or in contact with anyone yesterday.
According to Bloomfield, officers are still working to determine the vulnerability of the security guard’s colleagues and community contacts.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a temporary suspension of travel from India to New Zealand, which will come into effect April 11-28 and will apply to New Zealand citizens.
Those who are not vaccinated should be transferred to other roles and would not take a high-risk Covid job.
The government gave those who did not want to be vaccinated time to consider their options and seek further information.
From Monday, however, those who did not want to be vaccinated would have to take on other roles.
Health Secretary Greg Hunt on Thursday downplayed fears, calling New Zealand a « global role model » for outbreak containment and confirming the council has remained unchanged.
« New Zealand has an excellent record … we as a government have confidence in the New Zealand government’s approach, » he said.
« But we have the full independence and authority that we have given the Chief Medical Officer to make open and fearless recommendations. So where we needed to take steps, we have. »
Mr Hunt said Australia and New Zealand have two of the most powerful hotel quarantine systems in the world, but no action could completely eradicate the COVID-19 threat.
« (But) even the best in the world is not an immunity bubble. Something will leak out of it, whether it is a breath, a touch or a surface. »
Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously said he had no advice on the case or commented on whether the travel bubble plan derailed.
The Australian chief medical officer said there was no apparent causal link between the death of an elderly Queensland woman and the COVID-19 vaccination she received hours earlier.
The 82-year-old, who had lived at the Blue Care Yurana geriatric care facility in Springwood, south of Brisbane, received her push around 10 a.m. on Wednesday. The police were called home at around 1:30 p.m.
Her death has been classified as not suspicious and the police will prepare a report for the coroner. CMO Professor Paul Kelly said while the death was being investigated, there appeared to be no association between her death and the vaccine.
« Unfortunately, there are more than 1,000 people in elderly care every week. It is inevitable, as the head of TGA has determined, that this will include people who have recently been vaccinated, » said Professor Kelly.
« The medical experts and the TGA will examine the specifics of such cases and come to a conclusion based on the facts. »
The woman is said to have suffered from a number of underlying conditions, including lung diseases, the Courier Mail has reported.
« Elderly and more frail people in an elderly care are expected to die from underlying disease progression or natural causes. This doesn’t mean the vaccine contributed, » he said.
« The TGA will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines as they are introduced in Australia and internationally. »
He also said the AstraZeneca bump was « very safe », despite reports today from the UK that it has been linked to rare blood clotting events and that those under 30 would no longer receive the vaccine.
In January, the TGA examined 30 deaths among elderly people in Norway who had received the Pfizer vaccine.
At this point, the European Medicines Agency found no causal link between vaccination and deaths, and the TGA found no risk of vaccinating elderly patients with the Pfizer shock.
Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, which are being launched across Australia, can cause minor side effects such as fever, muscle pain and fatigue, but have been classified as safe.
It comes because the EMA has found a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare cases of blood clots in some patients.
The federal government should deliver 10,500 vaccines to 150 elderly care facilities in Queensland this week.
Health Secretary Greg Hunt says Australia should receive an additional 1.6 million vaccines over the next three weeks, for a total dose of 2.9 million.
« We got the 1.3 million that were deleted and we expect to reach over 470,000 later this week, 480,000 early next week, and then 670,000 at the end of next week or early the following week, » Hunt told reporters in Melbourne.
Mr Hunt said the arrival date for the batches could change as they are still subject to safety protocols and assessments.
It comes after the country’s top health official announced that Australia has no answers on whether the AstraZeneca vaccine is causing blood clots, but advice remains to move on with the vaccine.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) has recommended that Australians continue to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine despite concerns that it could be linked to rare coagulation events that are reported around the world.
It is because the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has been investigating a case that may be vaccine-related and that will constitute most of the Australian rollout.
Health Department Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said local authorities had contacted European and UK regulators to clarify possible issues with AstraZeneca overseas.
His comments came after a study of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in UK children was interrupted while regulators were investigating possible links to rare blood clots in adults.
There was also confusion over whether the European Medicines Agency (EMA) found a link between the vaccine and the blood clots that have been linked to the deaths of seven people vaccinated in the UK.
« We are working very closely with our colleagues in the UK and Europe to verify the data they are receiving, » said Professor Murphy in Canberra today.
He said it was unclear « if it is a real problem and if it has any meaning ».
« We are taking this matter very seriously at the moment, » he said, adding that the AstraZeneca vaccine would continue to be administered in Australia despite concerns overseas.
The Morrison government alerted the European Commission to the shipment of millions of internationally manufactured vaccine doses.
A war of words broke out overnight after the Commission – the executive branch of the European Union – rejected claims that it had prevented 3.1 million cans of AstraZeneca from being sent to Australia.
The commission’s main spokesman, Eric Mamer, said he could not confirm a new decision to block vaccine exports.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 3.1 million cans did not come to Australia in January and February under the contract with AstraZeneca.
The federal government argues that failing to respond to vaccination requests or asking Australia to withdraw requests is tantamount to blocking them.
The government announced that so far only 700,000 have been shipped because the EU had not granted AstraZeneca an export license.
However, AstraZeneca was recommended by the European Commission to withdraw its application and resubmit a revised application for 250,000 doses.
COVID VICTIM NAMED
The man who died of COVID-19 complications in a Brisbane hospital was exposed as Mal Kela Smith, a distinguished former governor and businessman from Papua New Guinea.
PNG Health Secretary Jelta Wong confirmed that 77-year-old Smith, a former governor of the Eastern Highlands, died at Redcliffe Hospital on Monday after being evacuated from PNG on an emergency flight on March 28.
Mr Wong told News Corp Australia that Mr Smith’s death was « a sad day for Papua New Guinea » and proved that COVID-19 « does not discriminate ».
« Mal Kela Smith was an institution in Papua New Guinea, » Wong told News Corp Australia.
« He was one of the first to get into the aviation industry. He worked a lot across the country, but ended up living in the eastern highlands. »
Mr Wong said Mr Smith’s business, Pacific Helicopters, helped bring people who live in rural areas to medical appointments.
« He’s helped a lot of people through his business, his helicopter business, in very rural areas. He used to be very good at bringing people out of remote areas for hospital checks. »
Mr Wong said Mr Smith, who was born in the UK, was twice elected governor of the eastern highlands and served as chair of the provincial hospital committee.
PNG officials are currently in the process of bringing the esteemed guide’s body back to the eastern highlands.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s approval rating has fallen in a war of words with prime ministers over vaccine adoption and sexual assault allegations that rocked Parliament, an exclusive Newspoll has revealed.
The coalition has lost major election campaigns in Western Australia and Queensland and is on the verge of collapse in South Australia, reports The Australian.
Demographic and state analysis of Newspoll data, the Australian reports suggest, suggests that the coalition would have to restore support in the resource states in order to retain the government.
On a bipartisan basis, the coalition is now behind Labor averaging 49 to 51 percent averaged over the last four Newspolls, compared to a 51 to 49 lead in the December analysis.
The analysis also found that the coalition has seen more male than female voters fleeing the past three months, reports The Australian.
VACCINE ROLLOUT ‘A distraction from the scandal’
The Queensland Deputy Prime Minister has accused Scott Morrison of using the delay in the introduction of the vaccine as a distraction from the Brittany Higgins, rape and sexual harassment scandal in Canberra.
Steven Miles said the federal government’s recent criticism of the vaccine’s slow roll-out was due to criticism of the treatment of women in parliament buildings.
Mr Miles said he expected the Prime Minister to continue to raise questions about the vaccine in the run-up to Friday’s national cabinet meeting.
« Undoubtedly, the Prime Minister will continue to try to use the vaccine rollout and COVID more broadly to distract from the government’s other troubles.
« That was a very orchestrated campaign to stop all of you (the media) from talking about Brittany Higgins, rape and sexual harassment and all the things that happened in Canberra. »
Mr Miles criticized Defense Secretary Peter Dutton’s comments that the three-day lockdown on Brisbane last week was an overreaction by Annastacia Palaszczuk.
« In fact, they were so keen to distract everyone from these issues that they compromised confidence in their own vaccine rollout program, which continued yesterday with Peter Dutton’s outrageous attack on our prime minister, » he said.
« If Scott Morrison stays true to form, I would expect they will continue to find plenty of distractions in the days ahead, so that’s what people are talking about, not the treatment of women in Canberra. »
Mr Miles said the proposed use of a quarantine facility near Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba is a priority for the state government.
National vice chairman David Littleproud defended the federal government’s approach to vaccine adoption amid mounting tensions with states, saying there is always clarity on vaccine supplies and that Australia has been « deeply disappointed » with the EU.
« It’s about being transparent and honest, » he told Nines Today Show on Monday. « This is the largest vaccination program our country has ever seen, and it is important that we understand what is happening to it. The arithmetic is simple. We have three million short because the EU has cut us. »
Vaccination army on the way
The number of medical clinics delivering the COVID-19 vaccine will double this week as the Morrison government tries to accelerate the program.
Health Secretary Greg Hunt said there was a record intake of 79,283 vaccinations on Thursday alone last week.
Mr Hunt supported the NSW government’s announcement that it would set up 32 « super clinics » to promote vaccinations after Canberra was criticized for missing its four million vaccination target by the end of March.
« We welcome all states and areas that are setting up large vaccination centers. That has always been part of the plan and has been included as an option in national partnership agreements, and NSW is now enabling it, » said Hunt.
MP’S SAVAGE SPRAY
Queensland Deputy Prime Minister Steven Miles has used Twitter to berate Defense Secretary Peter Dutton for his comment. The three-day lockdown last week was a « panic ».
The Gibe came when the federal government announced that 841,885 vaccinations had been administered across the country – well below the four million planned by the end of March.
« You’d think Easter Sunday the Morrison government could take a day off to attack our prime minister, » Miles tweeted.
But he didn’t stop there. « We might not have needed the lockdown if you’d delivered the 4 million cans you promised by March 31, » he tweeted.
This is the latest criticism from Mr Miles regarding the handling of the vaccine rollout by the federal government.
Last Thursday, he said hardly any of the Queensland residents or elderly care workers had received the vaccine and warned that stocks of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were dangerously low.
Federal-state relations are struggling, which was spurred on by a media report criticizing the introduction of NSW vaccines. Senior Federal Minister David Littleproud said states had « done everything » to help vaccinate efforts for frontline health workers.
The NSW government also responded severely to the comments. NSW Health Secretary Brad Hazzard told news.com.au he was « extremely angry » about the report.
« I am angry more than ever in these 15 months of war on this virus, » said Hazzard.
The Morrison government has missed its original target of vaccinating four million Australians by the end of March and has also been criticized by general practitioners, claiming late deliveries and undersupply.
NSW hospitals could soon be called in to push vaccine rollouts after days of fiery exchanges between heads of state and the federal government.
So far, around 750,000 shocks have been administered across the country – well below the four million target expected by the end of March.
This means 200,000 people a day will have to roll up their sleeves to achieve the goal of all Australian adults getting their first dose of the bump by the end of October.
Heads of state argue that they are left in the dark about how many doses they are receiving and have beaten the federal government for accusing them of storing vaccines.
On Thursday, NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian reiterated her persistent plea, calling on the Morrison government to allow state hospitals to help roll out if they fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
NCA NewsWire believes Ms. Berejiklian’s calls have been answered by the federal government to accept her offer.
The government is planning mass vaccination clinics for Phase 2A, Professor Brendan Murphy told Senate estimates last week.
Victoria has got a head start on plans for four vaccination centers, while other states will set up more mass centers as the rollout program gains momentum.
Hospitals will be able to vaccinate people from Group 1B, but the decision to do so is up to the NSW government.
Professor Murphy has been screened repeatedly for vaccination goals but said it would depend on local care from CSL.
« We want to see what the output of CSL is before we make any more precise predictions, » he said.
« I am unable to give an exact number. It would be pointless if we do not have absolute certainty about the introduction of CSL. »
Earlier this week, NSW Health Secretary Brad Hazzard said in a media address that he was « never so angry ».
Its outbreak came after a media report criticized the introduction of the vaccine by the New South Wales government. He seemed to hold the federal government responsible for the source material of the story
« I am angry like never before in these 15 months of war against this virus, » Hazzard said on Wednesday.
« I’m very angry and I know there are other health ministers in the country who share similar views, state and territory health ministers.
« It is not appropriate for us to wake up and find numbers in the media that have not been shared with state or territory governments. It is not appropriate for those numbers to be put in a misleading light. »
The news report claimed NSW received around 190,000 doses from the Commonwealth but administered only about 96,000 of them.
Mr Hazzard took the opportunity to contact the federal government and said their own vaccine rollout was not perfect.
« Let’s get this really clear: the New South Wales government was asked to give 300,000 vaccinations for groups in 1A and 1B. Of that we did 100,000, » he said.
« The federal government was asked and is responsible for 5.5 million people. They introduced 50,000. I think the numbers speak for themselves. »
Queensland registered eight new cases today, seven of which were acquired overseas and discovered in hotel quarantine.
There is a historical case that is believed to be the missing link to the first cluster.
The state’s chief health officer, Jeannette Young, said everyone involved in the two clusters that led to a lockdown in the greater Brisbane area « did everything wonderfully ».
Health officials believe they have broken the mysterious link between the two Brisbane clusters that triggered the snap lock.
The Sunshine State reported a new locally acquired case on Friday – a historic infection in a nurse who worked at Princess Alexandra Hospital.
This nurse is believed to have been infected by the same returning traveler who was treated at Brisbane Hospital on March 10th as the original infection was received by a doctor.
This nurse did not get sick, but instead passed the deadly virus on to her partner, who then became the source of the cluster that spread across the inner north of Brisbane.
« So this is another nurse who, unfortunately, did nothing wrong to contract the infection from a gentleman who is clearly a super spreader, » said Jeannette Young, chief health officer, on Friday.
« Then it spread within that network and then we let the gentleman come out of the blue and test us.
« Because all of these people did what they did, we found this cluster so effective. And we have it under control. »
The state-government vaccine rollout was re-triggered when Cabinet Secretary David Littleproud said he was « not being taught » by the states.
« I am not being taught by a man who has been fired as minister of health and by a government that has given up its duty to protect its frontline health workers by not being fully vaccinated before treating COVID patients, » Littleproud said in a statement, according to a report in The Australian.
And when Queensland lifted its lockdown in time for Easter, Deputy Prime Minister Steven Miles warned the state would run out of pzifer vaccines that weekend, which worried general practitioners about the vaccine supply uncertainty that is the responsibility of the federal government.
Mr Littleproud’s statement was in response to comments made by Mr Miles, who claimed that he had « not heard from the vice-chairman of the national party » until this week.
Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt tried to downplay the Stoush, claiming there was no government divide and the rollout would continue to widen.
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