FRIDAY, MARCH 12
Scott Morrison says Australian health authorities have not raised any concerns about using the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, after some European countries paused their rollouts amid reports of people developing blood clots after their injections.
The Prime Minister, who is also the acting Health Minister while Greg Hunt is on sick leave, said he had spoken to Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy this morning, and there was no advice to pause Australia’s rollout.
“The [Therapeutic Goods Administration] obviously looks at these reports when they come through, but they do their own batch testing,” he said.
“I was watching them do it just earlier this week.
“We have a very robust process for examining that.”
Mr Morrison said Australian authorities would continue to monitor developments overseas.
Denmark, Norway and Iceland have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, following reports that people who received it went on to form blood clots.
However, the European medicine regulator EMA says the vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks and it should continue to be administered.
When asked if he was personally worried about the news from Denmark, Norway and Iceland, Mr Morrison said he was not.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack also wanted to assure Australians the vaccine remained safe to use.
“We’re getting on with the vaccine, we’re getting on with the rollout, and Australians should be assured our TGA — which is world class — they’ve said it’s OK,” he said.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use in Australia last month. The majority of the doses will be produced onshore in Melbourne by biotech company CSL.
Prince William has denied the royal family is racist and says he has not spoken to his brother since Prince Harry and Meghan’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey aired.
It is the first time a member of the royal family has spoken in public about the bombshell interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, after William and Harry’s father Prince Charles refused to comment during an appearance on Tuesday.
The Duke of Cambridge was visiting a school in east London when he was quizzed about the interview, which has sent shockwaves through the monarchy and forced the Queen to release a statement saying she was “saddened” by the events that took place.
He was asked by a reporter “is the royal family racist, sir?” to which the Duke replied “we’re very much not a racist family”.
When asked if he had spoken to his brother, William replied: “No, I haven’t spoken yet, but I will do.”
During Winfrey’s interview, which aired earlier this week, Meghan had said an unnamed member of the royal family had asked Harry “how dark” the skin of their unborn child would be.
Winfrey later said that Harry told her that neither the Queen nor Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, had made the comments.
During the interview Meghan and Harry detailed mental health struggles during their time as working royals, with Meghan saying she had been turned away by one of the most senior people in the palace when she sought help for her mental health problems.
On Tuesday Buckingham Palace released a statement saying the claim a member of the royal family had questioned the skin colour of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s unborn baby was “concerning”.
In the statement released on behalf of the Queen, it said “recollections may vary” about issues raised in the interview but they would be “taken very seriously”.
“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the statement read.
“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning.
“While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.
“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”
The interview was watched by 12.4 million people in the UK and more than 17 million in the US, where it first aired on Sunday night on the CBS network.
Last month Harry and Meghan informed the Queen they would no longer be working members of the royal family, which in turn led to them being stripped of their royal patronages.
The decision came 11 months into a 12-month review agreed to by the Duke and Duchess with Buckingham Palace about their future roles, after announcing they intended to take a “step back” from the family and be part-time royals in January 2020.
US President Joe Biden has promised every American adult will be eligible to be vaccinated for the coronavirus by the beginning of May, “much earlier” than previously expected.
Mr Biden delivered his first prime time address to the nation as President this evening, focusing on the state of the pandemic and the effort to get Americans vaccinated.
He spoke at some length about the importance of national unity, though he did also have one subtle dig at his predecessor, Donald Trump, who yesterday claimed Americans would not have got the vaccines for “five years at best” if he hadn’t been in office throughout 2020.
“I hope everyone remembers!” Mr Trump said in an official statement.
Mr Biden started, as he usually does, by acknowledging America’s horrendous coronavirus death toll, which currently stands at 530,000.
As he turned to the vaccination effort, his tone became more optimistic.
“When I came into office, you may recall, I set a goal that many of you said was kind of way over the top,” he said.
“I said I intended to get 100 million shots in people’s arms in my first 100 days in office.
“Tonight, I can say we’re not only going to meet that goal, we’re going to beat that goal. Because we’re actually on track to reach this goal on my 60th day in office.
“No other country in the world has done this. None.”
Mr Biden’s claim that people thought his 100-day target was “way over the top” – something he repeats frequently – is false. Some reporting described the goal as “challenging”, while some suggested it was not ambitious enough.
“Tonight, I am announcing that I will direct all states to make all adults, people 18 and over, eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1,” the President continued.
“Let me say that again. All adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1. That’s much earlier than expected.
“And let me be clear. That doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have that shot immediately. But it means you’ll be able to get in line on May 1.
“To do this, we’re going to go from a million shots a day that I promised in December, to maintaining (beating) our current pace of two million a day.”
Mr Biden issued a further promise that, from that point at the start of May, the government would have “new tools” up and running to help people find places to get the vaccines.
“No more searching day and night for an appointment for you and your loved ones,” he said.
Next he turned to the passage of his $US1.9 trillion COVID relief package, which was approved by Congress yesterday. The President signed it into law in the Oval Office earlier today.
Mr Biden said the package would help “accelerate a massive nationwide effort” to reopen schools safely.
“This is going to be the number one priority of my new Secretary of Education,” he said.
“In the coming weeks, we will issue further guidance on what you can and cannot do once fully vaccinated, to lessen the confusion, keep people safe and encourage more people to get vaccinated.”
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