Australians may not receive their first COVID-19 jab by the end of October as initially planned, with the federal government advising those under 50 not to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.
European authorities on Wednesday identified a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots, prompting Australia’s drug regulators to hold urgent meetings to consider their findings.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison received recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on Thursday night, and moved to make Pfizer the vaccine of choice for people under 50.
The recommendations were made out of an “abundance of caution”, he said, with the rare yet serious side effects more commonly found in younger people.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said the adverse reaction appeared in four to six cases per million vaccine doses and had a 25 per cent death rate.
ATAGI also recommended those under the age of 50 who have received their first AstraZeneca jab proceed with their second, as the medical advice indicates the rare blood clots only develop after the first dose.
Only where the benefit clearly outweighs the risk should an initial AstraZeneca dose be administered to someone under the age of 50.
“Ultimately here, the choice is with individual Australians and their doctor,” Morrison said.
“This is not a directive. This is not an instruction.
“It’s a caution that has been exercised consistent with many other countries around the world.”
Britain’s vaccine advisory committee is advising people under 30 not receive the AstraZeneca jab, while France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Belgium and most recently the Philippines and South Korea have all set minimum age requirements for the jab.
Health care workers in Australia aged under 50 who were due to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine will now be prioritised for the Pfizer vaccine, which will likely delay phase 1b of the rollout.
ATAGI’s advice essentially relegates most of the government’s vaccine rollout timetable to the waste bin.
The federal government had planned for every Australian to be offered at least their first dose of the vaccine by the end of October, with most receiving the AstraZeneca jab.
But the prime minister now concedes that timeline is in doubt.
“We expect that this will require some changes to the arrangements we have as part of the vaccination rollout,” Morrison said.
“This includes when we might expect first doses ultimately to be able to be offered to all Australians.”
The new health advice also casts doubt over the 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to be manufactured at the CSL facility in Melbourne.
Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy said “all options are on the table” regarding CSL’s future manufacturing output.
“Clearly, CSL, we still have a big need for AstraZeneca – it is going to be a really important vaccine to vaccinate a significant proportion of the population,” Murphy said.
“So [CSL] will continue to make AstraZeneca. We will be reviewing with them over [the] coming months just what the output will be.
“They can’t make another vaccine while they’re making AstraZeneca – they made that very clear.”
The use of the Pfizer vaccine will be ramped up to accommodate for the change, with some 20 million doses due in Australia by the end of the year.
The government also hopes deliveries of the 51 million doses of the Novovax jab Australia ordered will begin from October, despite the vaccine remaining in the clinical trial phase.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the government should have made deals for the supply of a wider range of vaccines.
“Since last year, Labor has been calling on the Morrison Government to get five or six vaccine deals – for a situation exactly like this,” Albanese said on Twitter last night.
“Scott Morrison dismissed these concerns.”
The rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia began at Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Murray Bridge on March 5, a day after the Therapeutic Goods Administration gave the jab its final tick of approval.
SA Health administered 1814 COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, bringing the state’s vaccination total to 32,635.
South Australia’s vaccination rate per 100 people is the second slowest in the country ahead of only New South Wales, with the slow pace prompting a slide in business confidence.
Premier Steven Marshall will attend National Cabinet today to discuss the latest health advice on the AstraZeneca jab and the state of the rollout across the country.
A woman has died after a car crash in Hindmarsh Valley on Thursday while a pedestrian is fighting for their life in hospital after two separate incidents on South Australian roads.
Around 12:10 pm yesterday, emergency services were called to a crash between a Ford Territory and a Subaru Forester at the intersection of Victor Harbor Road and Hindmarsh Tiers road.
The passenger of the Subaru, a 62 year-old woman from Queensland, died at the scene, while the driver and a second passenger suffered non-life threatening injuries and were taken to the Flinders Medical Centre.
The driver of the Ford was also taken to the Flinders Medical Centre with non-life threatening injuries. A child in the back of the Ford was uninjured.
Victor Harbor Road has since been reopened after major crash investigators examined the scene.
South Australia’s road toll this year is now 36 people, compared to 32 at the same point last year.
Meanwhile, a pedestrian is in the Royal Adelaide Hospital after being hit by a truck at Clearview in Adelaide’s north.
Emergency services were called to Hampstead Road around 10:45am on Thursday following reports a pedestrian had been struck by a truck on Windsor Avenue.
The truck driver was not injured but taken to hospital as a precaution.
South Australian Supreme Court Justice and Court of Appeal President Trish Kelly will retire in September this year – bringing forward her retirement by three months.
Kelly has been a judge on SA’s highest court since 2007, and started her role as the inaugural President of the SA Court of Appeal on January 1 this year.
Attorney-General Vickie Chapman has appointed Justice Mark Livesey to replace Kelly as Court of Appeal President, and will appoint a new Supreme Court judge in August.
Kelly, whose retirement will come into effect on September 1, said the new Court of Appeal has a “sound foundation” to work from.
“It has been a great privilege to serve the state as the inaugural President of the Court of Appeal,” Kelly said in a statement on Thursday.
“The Court rules and practices we have adopted provide a sound foundation for the just and efficient determination of appeals.
“For several reasons I thought it best to give an early indication of my intention to retire.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice Chris Kourakis said he was “grateful” for the early notice Kelly has provided on her retirement, which will allow the court to better organise its case lists.
The Attorney-General thanked Kelly for her service on the newly formed appeals court.
“She took on this responsibility and challenge with gusto, overseeing a seamless transition to the new court,” Chapman said
“Under Justice Kelly’s leadership, the Court has been established and is now efficiently handling its appellate work, resulting in consistent, high-quality judgments.”
The Morrison government has promised changes to make Australian workplaces safer but critics say its plan does not go far enough to combat sexual harassment.
The government has released its response to the Respect at Work report, promising to make politicians and judges subject to the same laws as the Australian public.
Sexual harassment will be a valid reason for dismissal and included in the definition of serious workplace misconduct.
Victims will have also two years to bring complaints forward rather than six months.
But the government did not commit to implementing all 55 recommendations.
Assistant minister for women Amanda Stoker says it supports them either in exact terms or in spirit.
In some instances the government disagrees on how Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, who conducted the report, recommended they occur.
“We see where you’re coming from but we’re going to do it a slightly different way,” Stoker told the ABC on Thursday.
One recommendation is to change sex discrimination laws to force all employers to proactively take measures to eliminate the behaviour.
However the government is only promising to assess whether that change would create complexity, noting similar provisions in work health and safety legislation.
There was also a call for the Human Rights Commission to have broad powers to investigate systemic harassment.
While releasing Thursday’s response Prime Minister Scott Morrison said sexual harassment was unacceptable.
Labor is challenging him to dump Queensland MP Andrew Laming to show he takes those words seriously.
Laming is on paid leave to undertake empathy training after being accused of harassing two female constituents and taking a photo of a woman while she was bending over.
He is quitting at the next election but Morrison has resisted calls to dump him from the coalition party room with the government holding a wafer-thin majority in the lower house.
Senior Labor senator Kristina Keneally said Morrison’s response to the report could not be taken seriously while Laming was a member of government.
“Stop sheltering Andrew Laming,” she told reporters in Sydney.
Labor is also calling on the government to introduce 10 days of paid domestic violence leave.
US President Joe Biden has announced six executive orders aimed at addressing a proliferation of gun violence across the country that he says is an “epidemic and an international embarrassment”, on a day when another five people were killed in a mass shooting – this time in South Carolina.
“The idea that we have so many people dying ever single day from gun violence in America is a blemish on our character as a nation,” Biden said during remarks at the White House on Thursday.
Family members whose children were killed at the Sandy Hook, Connecticut, school massacre in 2012 and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 attended the hearing and Biden thanked them for attending, saying he understood it would remind them of the awful days when they got the calls.
Biden’s announcement delivers on a pledge the president made last month to take what he termed immediate “common-sense steps” to address gun violence, after a series of mass shootings drew renewed attention to the issue.
His announcement came the same day as yet another, this one in South Carolina, where former NFL player Phillip Adams shot a prominent doctor, his wife and their two grandchildren before shooting himself, according to authorities.
Biden emphasised the scope of the problem: between the mass killings in Atlanta massage businesses and the Colorado grocery store shooting last month, there were more than 850 additional shootings that killed 250 and injured 500 in the US, he said.
His executive orders tighten regulations on homemade guns and provide more resources for gun-violence prevention but fall far short of the sweeping gun-control agenda he laid out on the campaign trail.
Biden reiterated his call for Congress to act, urging the Senate to take up House-passed measures closing background check loopholes.
He also said Congress should pass the Violence Against Women Act, eliminate legal exemptions for gun manufacturers and ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
“This is not a partisan issue among the American people,” Biden insisted.
While Biden asserted that he’s “willing to work with anyone to get it done,” gun control measures face slim prospects in an evenly divided Senate where Republicans remain near-unified against most proposals.
Most of the actions he announced will go through the Justice Department.
Port Adelaide have axed versatile tall Peter Ladhams while summoning teenager Lachie Jones for an AFL debut in tonight’s blockbuster preliminary final rematch against reigning premiers Richmond.
Power coach Ken Hinkley described Jones – a solidly-built 18-year-old half-back from Yorke Peninsula – as “aggressive and ready to play”.
“He is one of those mature young people that is just right to go out and play men’s footy,” Hinkley told reporters on Thursday.
“He is a big boy … he is explosive. He has got a lot of things that you’d suggest would make him successful at AFL football, now he gets his first test.
“What a game to debut, against the reigning premiers.”
Jones was pick 16 at last year’s national draft.
Tonight’s encounter is a rematch of last season’s preliminary final when the Tigers pipped the Power by six points en route to a third premiership in four seasons.
Hinkley dismissed any theme of belated revenge, noting both clubs were badly beaten last weekend.
“Everyone would like to say it’s going to be a big moment because of the prelim final,” he said.
“It will be a big moment because both teams had a loss last week and both teams are trying to create their season this year – and that’s nothing about last year.
Despite the forecast for warm, dry weather, Hinkley dumped Miles Bergman and Ladhams but the 202cm forward-ruckman may yet earn a reprieve with forward Todd Marshall facing a match-day fitness test after rolling an ankle at training.
“We expect he will be okay – if he doesn’t come up, Ladhams will come in,” Hinkley said.
Richmond made a series of changes with Dion Prestia (hamstring) and Kayden McIntosh (concussion) unavailable, while Josh Caddy, Derek Eggmolesse-Smith and Daniel Rioli were dropped.
Rebounding backman Bachar Houli returns for his first game of the season with Jack Ross and debutants, Will Martyn and Rhyan Mansell.
Meanwhile, the Crows have lost midfielder Matt Crouch for at least another month due to a groin injury.
The 2017 club champion has not played a game this season due to a hip injury.
“We have been really conservative with Matty,” Crows coach Matthew Nicks told reporters on Thursday.
“He is a super-important part of what we’re doing – a big, experienced midfielder that we know we are going to need throughout this season.”
The Crows face unfancied North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
-With AAP and Reuters
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Place of originWhat we know today, Friday April 9