/ 19 April 2021

Back to National Cabinet they go…

As the 2-way travel bubble with New Zealand forms today, PM Scott Morrison and state/territory leaders will meet to reset the coronavirus vaccination program. On the National Cabinet agenda: the program’s missed targets in the wake of supply problems and changed advice on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Yup… And it’s the AstraZeneca vaccine’s link to rare blood clots (that led the government’s experts to recommend its use be limited to those aged over 50yo) that has knocked the program around significantly. Hence Morrison’s decision for twice-weekly National Cabinet meetings after conceding that change would see plans to get Aussies vaccinated fall behind schedule. Getting older Aussies vaccinated ASAP is a priority as states look to set up hubs to speed things up. As for international borders, Morrison says he’s “in no hurry,” but he remains optimistic for the 2nd half of the year when he says Aussies might be able to travel overseas for “essential” reasons with the possibility of quarantining at home on return. “We have to do a lot of work together with state and territories and the Commonwealth to make sure that works,” he said yesterday.

For non-essential reasons? There’s no update to the advice – the plan is early next year. But it’s a good time to be reminded that while life has largely gone back to normal in Oz, the virus continues to cut a deadly path with the global coronavirus death toll passing 3 million over the weekend. And while vaccine campaigns have hit their stride in the US and Britain, other countries lag behind. The world’s focus is currently on India, which is experiencing a devastating second wave of infections. Yesterday, it reported 261,500 new cases – its highest single-day figure so far – bringing total cases since the pandemic started to more than 14 million.

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