THURSDAY DEC 3
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says COVID vaccinations will start rolling out to the British public next week.
So why do Australians have to wait?
The ABC reports that the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Health Minister Greg Hunt and John Skerritt, the head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, spent more than an hour on Thursday explaining why, and what happens next.
The Prime Minister said the Government’s first priority was the safety of Australians, and any vaccine would be rolled out in Australia dependent on local needs and conditions.
The Government is looking at four different vaccines, including the Pfizer vaccine just approved for emergency use in the UK.
Mr Morrison said all four vaccines the Government was pursuing still had “stages to pass in the months ahead”.
“As we move into the vaccine period, our first priority is it be safe,” he said.
“It must be safe for Australians, and that’s what they expect of us.”
He said the UK, where the coronavirus outbreak is much more severe, would have to deal with its own circumstances in its own way.
Nearly 650 COVID-related deaths were recorded in the UK this week, and another
Dr Skerritt said his team would be work on the approval processes throughout summer.
“I’m hoping that will be in the coming weeks, but we are at the mercy of the companies,” he said, adding the data would be tens of thousands of pages long if you were to print it out.
“Unfortunately my staff have been told to put away their swimsuits and towels and to work as quickly as we can, but also in significant depth, with parallel teams of doctors, scientists, toxicologists, engineers, facility inspectors, pharmaceutical industry experts.”
He said he was hopeful they would be in a position to approve one or more vaccines by late January or early February.
“I wouldn’t want to use the word guinea pigs with the UK,” Dr Skeritt said.
He said vaccines were being developed more quickly than normal because of unprecedented levels of investment from governments around the world.
“Governments across the world are essentially … supporting companies and researchers to be able to do several steps at once,” he said.
He said the vaccines were being developed more quickly this time around because of the experience gained in developing vaccines for diseases like SARS.
But he added that the UK data would inform whether Australia would approve a vaccine or not.
“Let’s say come late January or February, we actually not only will have the data for the clinical trials of 10,000 to 40,000 — depending on the type of trial — people, but we’ll also have the real-world experience of several hundred thousand people having had the vaccine.”
The jury in Jarryd Hayne’s rape trial has retired to deliberate after being told the former NRL star caused his alleged victim “pain and discomfort”, but had she not been injured a complaint may not have been made.
In his closing remarks defence barrister Phillip Boulten SC said that Mr Hayne’s encounter with the woman on the night of September 30, 2018, had “ended badly” and caused “a lot of grief”.
He told Newcastle District Court that Mr Hayne, 32, had tried to please the complainant, 28, but did not force her into sexual acts.
“Did he kiss her? Yes, he did,” Mr Boulten said.
“Could it have unfolded as he described? It sure could have.
“So what went wrong? What went wrong was she was injured and she bled.
“He didn’t mean to harm her, he didn’t intend to hurt her.
“He was trying to please her sexually but it ended really badly.
“It caused her a lot of grief — a lot of pain, discomfort and grief.
“To be frank, his sexual prowess turned out to be terrible — it was terrible.
“It is not a big step, then, to convert that in your own mind, as the victim, that ‘He was nasty to me, he was uncaring towards me, he was forcing me into it.’
“Well, it was bad sex.
“If there hadn’t been blood, though, it is unlikely there would be any complaint made about sexual assault.”
Mr Boulten told the jurors that they were the ones who would decide the outcome of the case — not the media — and that Mr Hayne’s fame should be ignored.
“You are the only people in the whole of the world who have heard everything about the evidence,” he said.
“No-one asks for special treatment here.
“We don’t ask you to treat Jarryd Hayne as some sort of hero who needs to be acquitted — far from it.
“What I ask is you treat him like anybody else, who is not famous.
“Please don’t treat him differently because he is a good footballer.
“Nor should you convict him because you feel very, very sad for [the woman].
“A not guilty verdict is appropriate and I leave it in your hands.”
It’s the world’s biggest synchronised sex event that’s OK to teach your kids about.
Every year just after the full moon in late spring or early summer, the corals of the Great Barrier Reef release trillions of eggs and sperm into the water, usually over the course of about three or four nights.
And this year, that’s set to happen this weekend, says the ABC.
While it’s a spectacle most of us will never see first hand, the ABC will be streaming it as it happens on Friday and Sunday nights in a series called Reef Live on ABC TV and iView.
Despite the sheer scale of the event, scientists have only known about it since 1981. Before that, it was thought that corals brooded and released their fertilised embryos year round.
But in the past 40 or so years, they’ve learnt a lot, and we’ve asked them to catch us up.
So before the big night(s), here are a couple of answers to questions that you, or your kids, might have about nature’s greatest showcase of the birds and the bees.
A bunch of things influence the timing of coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef.
Smaller-scale spawning takes place most months of the year, and that depends on things like location and species.
But there are three key triggers, called “proximate factors”, that kick off the mother of all spawning events in late November/early December, according to reef expert Bette Willis from the Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.
The first is water temperature. While the waters of the southern reef are much cooler than in the north, spawning is triggered reef-wide by a sharp rise in temperature as the weather warms toward the end of spring.
It’s the rise in temperature, not the absolute temperature, that is the trigger.
Because shallow water warms faster than deep water, some of the inshore reefs actually spawned after last month’s full moon.
The second trigger is moonlight, according to coral reproduction expert Peter Harrison from Southern Cross University.
As PhD students studying in Townsville in the early 1980s, both Professor Harrison and Emeritus Professor Willis were part of the team that first made the discovery that corals spawn.
“[Spawning] occurs somewhere between four and seven nights after the full moon in the spring and summer,” he said.
“Coral tissues are actually sensitive to moonlight and therefore the lunar cycle is entrained by periods of increasing moonlight up to full moon.”
Although increasing moonlight appears to be one of the triggers leading up to the event, actual spawning for most corals begins at night before the moon rises, Professor Harrison said.
“The final trigger is darkness. Some corals spawn right on dusk and others have a timer that starts half an hour to an hour after sunset,” he said.
“One of the advantages of spawning at night is that most of the visual predators are asleep.
“It’s possible that by spawning in that period just before the moonrise, when there’s very little light, they’re limiting their exposure to predators.”
Another theory for why corals spawn in the period a few days after the full moon is because this is when tidal action is the lowest, according to Professor Willis.
“About three or four days after the full moon is usually the time of the neap tides, [which is] when there’s minimal water movement,” she said.
Neap tides mean that longshore currents are stronger than cross-shelf tidal currents, so that developing embryos and larvae will be swept out to sea in long coral spawn slicks by the following morning.
This takes them away from the “wall of mouths” — fish and invertebrate predators ready to feast on the lipid-rich spawn and new embryos when the sun rises.
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