Was the sound uttered by European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after she was left without a chair during a meeting with happily-seated male counterparts in Turkey. It was a mumble that clearly said “did you just snub me?”
EVENING VACCINE ADVICE DELIVERS BIG CHANGE
Just as Australia hits the 1 million mark of COVID vaccines administered, PM Scott Morrison last night fronted the media to say he’d received advice that adults aged under 50yo who have not already received their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine should be given the Pfizer vaccine going forward. The AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to those aged under 50yo where the benefit of being immunised against the coronavirus “clearly outweighs the risk for that individual’s circumstances.” It’s not a directive, he said, but it’s what the government’s expert vaccine advisory body has recommended.
THIS IS ABOUT REPORTS OF BLOOD CLOTS?
Yep. Yesterday, the European Medicines Agency said there is the possibility of patients developing very rare cases of blood clots within two weeks of vaccination with the AstraZeneca jab, and our government tasked its official advisers to look at it. There have been reports of a slightly higher incidence of clots reported in younger adult age groups in the range of 4-6 cases per million vaccine recipients. “To put that in some sort of perspective, the combined oral contraceptive pill – that can include adverse side effects [of blood clots] – that’s 7-to-10 per 10,000.” But the cases of blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine have shown a 25% death rate, and advice from the Aussie experts is to target its rollout to those aged 50yo and over.
SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR GETTING AUSSIES VACCINATED?
Good question – and watch this space… Last night, Morrison said there will “be a recalibration” to “take into account the decision the government has taken tonight” – but it looks like plans to have all willing Aussie receive at least one dose of a vaccine by October are dashed. The Pfizer-produced vaccine is in circulation, and there will need to be a process of “prioritisation”, and the government will now have to “work through the logistics of that,” Morrison said. Which is a good time to note that Australia has done deals with 4 vaccine producers for almost 150 million doses at the cost of $3.3 billion – and the AstraZeneca vaccine makes up 53.8 million of those. Labor leader Anthony Albanese yesterday said that the episode has shown “the Federal Government should have secured more deals” with other vaccine producers. The National Cabinet is meeting today where this will be the top agenda item.
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...AND AN OVERHAUL TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWS
Employers will be expected to do more to crack down on sexual harassment and discrimination in their workplaces as part of the Morrison Government’s proposed changes to the legislation. All 55 recommendations of the [email protected] report will be adopted in part or in full, Morrison said yesterday. Those changes include making sexual harassment a valid reason to sack an employee and making the complaints system easier to navigate. The legislation will also be extended to include politicians, judges and public servants. Yep, they’re currently exempt… The response received some credit for its focus on preventing sexual harassment, but critics said it falls short of delivering the changes required to ensure workplace equality. Morrison said he wants the legislative changes before parliament during the winter session.
REGIONAL ALLIANCE COMES TOGETHER OVER MILK TEA
Twitter has recognised the #MilkTeaAlliance by creating an emoji that will appear when tweeted, just like it did for #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. This time it’s for a movement that unites pro-democracy supporters across Asia. And a bit is going on at the moment – whether it’s China’s clampdown on Hong Kong’s freedoms, Taiwan pushing back against Beijing’s reunification ambitions, young people in Thailand protesting against the government and monarchy, and demonstrations against the military coup in Myanmar. Twitter says 11 million tweets have referenced the hashtag since it first appeared a year ago, and “to mark the occasion, we designed an emoji featuring 3 different types of milk tea colours from regions where the Alliance first formed online.” Why have supporters embraced milk tea as their symbol? Those nations have a popular local variation of milk tea – and China doesn’t.
FINANCIAL REGULATOR TAKES ON WESTPAC
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) yesterday launched legal proceedings against Westpac for allegedly charging hundreds of customers for ‘junk’ consumer credit insurance without their consent. It covers consumers who might not meet their minimum loan repayments because they get sick or lose their jobs. But ASIC says in mid-2015, Westpac charged nearly 400 customers who had signed up for credit cards for the insurance without their knowledge. And it’s alleged Westpac broke the law when they told those customers they’d agreed to buy the policies. Westpac says it is “carefully considering these claims and is committed to working constructively with ASIC through the court process.”
BEIJING BILLIONAIRES TAKE THE LEAD
Beijing has been crowned the city with the most billionaires. It’s topped New York, which has held the top spot for the last 7 years. The Chinese capital added 33 billionaires last year and now hosts 100, just one more than the Big Apple. Among those on China’s list is Beijing’s richest resident and TikTok founder Zhang Yiming who saw his net worth double to US$35.6 billion. China’s containment of COVID-19, massive growth in online shopping, and rising stock markets have added more billionaires to the nation’s list than any other country in the world. Overall, the US is ahead in the billionaire stakes with 724 billionaires (which we assume includes new club member Kim Kardashian West…) compared to China’s 698.
THREE’S A CROWD...
Authorities have urged tourists near Western Oz’s Exmouth to evacuate as a trifecta of powerful storms are set to bring strong winds, heavy rain and high tides. While the initial collision of 2 storm systems – called the Fujiwhara effect – was already a pretty rare occurrence, a 3rd system has formed nearby. Experts say the party-crashing low-pressure system is unlikely to interact with the others, but it is expected to bring dangerous conditions across the coastline. Meanwhile, those in Australia’s southeast will today see their last day of sunshine for a bit as a “polar blast” from Antarctica hits this weekend. “This will be the last time we see the high 20s and low 30s until next spring,” meteorologist Jonathan How said. Time to bring out the winter woollies…
FRIDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
There have been many stories in recent months about what 2020 might mean for home design. Experts say open-plan homes are set to continue, but there’s a new emphasis on home offices and smaller spaces to retreat to when too much together time is barely enough…
Former AFL player/sports presenter Tony Armstrong is on everything on ABC TV at the moment – and we’re all for it. Case in point: his way with bad news – it never sounded so good.
You’ve heard of cacio e pepe pasta – but have you heard of cacio e pepe bread? This pull-apart cheesy, peppery deliciousness is a good one for a weekend bake. It’s the trifecta – easy, quick and kid-friendly (unless you’re lactose intolerant, sorry kid).
SQUIZ THE DAY
National Cabinet meets
ABS Data Release – Building Approvals, February (Additional Information)
Birthdays for Nigel Slater (1958), Marc Jacobs (1963), Cynthia Nixon (1966), Kristen Stewart (1990) and Lil Nas X (1999)
• the end of US Civil War after the surrender of the Confederate army (1865)
• US troops capturing Baghdad, which led to the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime (2003)
• The wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla (2005)
It’s the 100th day of the year. Yes really…
• the first law regulating copyright being issued in Great Britain (1710)
• the patenting of the safety pin (1849)
• RMS Titanic setting sail from Southampton for her maiden – and only – voyage (1912)
• the publication of F Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925)
• Paul McCartney officially announcing the split of The Beatles (1970)
12.05am – Women’s Soccer – Matildas v Germany – Wiesbaden, Germany
4.05pm – W-League Soccer Grand Final – Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory – Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
BAFTA Awards – UK
• US President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act (1968)
• the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after his forced removal from the Ecuadorian embassy in London (2019)
Early morning – Golf – US Masters Tournament concludes – Augusta, Georgia
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