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Message from the Publisher

#018 Why we are still waiting?

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Dear Readers,

Why we are still waiting?

Vaccines for Covid-19 is now used in the UK and the United States. According to the plan by the federal government, Australians will start the vaccination program from early March 2021. Recently Prime Minister Morrison hinted that it can start a bit earlier than the original plan. So we are waiting.
Health workers and the elderly will have the priority to be the first group of people receiving the first shot, together with prisoners and people with chronic obesity. The Australian Government has invested $363 million to support research and development, to contribute to the global effort to find successful vaccines and treatments to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Australian Government has invested more than $3.3 billion through 4 agreements, which will strengthen Australia’s position to access safe and effective vaccines when they become available.
The agreement with the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca will provide 53.8 million doses of this vaccine, with 3.8 million doses be delivered to Australia in early 2021. 50 million doses will be manufactured in Australia in monthly batches. CSL will manufacture these doses on behalf of AstraZeneca.
Novovax, if have the approval from TGA, will have 51 million doses made available in Australia during 2021.

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine has been authorised for emergency use in the UK but is yet to be fully approved and registered in any country. 10 million doses will be available for Australians in early 2021.
The Australian Government has joined the COVAX Facility as part of a global effort to support rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. This participation enables us to purchase vaccine doses for Australia as they become available. Nine vaccine candidates will be available for Australians if they are successfully approved.
Some people are puzzled why we cannot use emergency legislation to allow vaccination program to start now as in UK and US. The reason is simple. Australians are not suffering a widespread of Covid-19 now and safety of the Australians are not jeopardised. It is the role of the government not to sacrifice safety standard with the urgency of the vaccination program.
So, Australians will have a long period of Covid normal starting from now. Are you ready for it?

Regards,

Raymond Chow
Publisher, BlessingCALD

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Message from the Publisher

Message from the Publisher #026 – Report card for the first week

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Report card for the first week

The Australian Covid-19 vaccination program has started on 22 February. It was expected that 60,000 Australians would have received the vaccine by end of February. In reality, 33702 people had received the vaccine which was about 53% of the 63140 doses allocated for the first week of the campaign.

On 24 February, an untrained doctor was found giving 4 times the scheduled dosage to two seniors in an aged cared facility in Queensland. On 26 February, it was confirmed that 25 virals (over 120 doses) of unused vaccine had to be disposed of as the aged care facility could not confirm they were stored at the required temperature. A 31 million campaign has started to combat the increasing misinformation emerging around vaccinations. And the Home Affairs Department confirmed that a “myth busting” unit has been established to work with the Health Department to counteract misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccine.

The first week of the delivery of the vaccination program was not up to standard.

There was ample time for the federal and state governments to work out the delivery schedule and provided training for the people involved. If we have learned from overseas experience in delivering the vaccination program, we should be better prepared.

CALD leaders have suggested that special consideration to the delivery of the vaccine to the migrant communities should be made as they were groups with little government information and exposed to intense misinformation from various sources. For these communities to gain trust to receive the vaccine, CALD community groups and their leaders should be invited to participate and setting role models.

It is clear that until a majority of Australians have received the vaccine, society will not be going back to normal. The various government authorities should learn from this first week of operation that they should spend greater efforts to listen to opinions rather than following a bureaucratic protocol.

 

Raymond Chow,  Publisher

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Message from the Publisher

Message from the Publisher #025 – A new stage of the fight with COVID19

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A new stage of the fight with Covid-19

Last week marked a new stage of our fight with Covid-19.

In the US, the death toll by Covid-19 exceeded 500,000 and nearly 2.5 million died in the whole world. The number of infected totalled more than 112 million. Fortunately, the daily number of newly infected has gone down from a peak of 850,000 to 300,000. It is not sure whether this is resulted from the northern hemisphere becoming warmer after a cold winter, or the vaccination program started in the US and many European countries. But at least this is a good sign for the whole world.

In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has received the vaccine with a group of 20 including aged care facility residents, aged worker, health worker, and defence personnel. Chief medical officer Paul Kelly and Chief Nursing Officer Alison Mcmillan as decision-makers of this vaccination program also took the vaccine. The government is trying to build up trust in the public about the safety of the vaccination program.

Yes, vaccines are kept at minus 70 degrees and handling of these vaccines becomes a challenge. Doctors and health personnel need to be trained to work with special arrangements to assure that the vaccines would be stored and handled in the proper way. It is hoped that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which has been approved to be used and produced locally will be an easier-managed vaccine to be used.

In last week, in the fight against the to-be-installed law by the federal government to force technology companies to pay news provider in sharing the news, Facebook has banned many government websites to post their information resulting in that important Covid-19 information not accessible on Facebook. Australians protested vigorously and the image of Facebook tarnished in this foolish action. A group of federal MPs with medical background had urged the Australians not to trust Covid-19 information received from Facebook since the official information was blocked.

We believe that Facebook should observe it has corporate social responsibility toward the society that has used its service.

Blessings!

Raymond Chow
Publisher, BlessingCALD

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Message from the Publisher

Message from the Publisher #024 – Victoria undergoes a 5-Day snap lockdown

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Victoria undergoes a 5-Day snap lockdown

Happy Lunar New Year!

Many from the Asian cultures in Australia celebrated the Lunar New Year!

Unfortunately, Victorians would stay at home as a 5-day snap lockdown was announced on the first day of the Lunar New Year on 12 February. Up to 16 cases from the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn Hotel cluster with the UK strain of Covid-19 spread with tremendous speed had resulted in this lockdown. With three community transmitted cases in Auckland on Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced a three days stage three lockdown in Auckland and a stage 2 lockdown in other parts of New Zealand. As a result, arrivals from New Zealand to Australia would need to undergo 14 days of quarantine and the trans-Tasman travel bubble paused.

 

 

Some in Victoria blamed the Andrews government for the lockdown at one of the busiest weekends of the whole year leading to massive cancellation of bookings on Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year. Restaurateurs complained of the great loss of pre-ordered food stock at last minutes and asked for compensation. Politicians claimed that this was a result of an ineffective contact tracing system and poorly designed and never fixed hotel quarantine. Many compared to measures imposed by Queensland and New South Wales governments in similar situations and concluded that Victorians suffered from harsh government policy instead.

The precautionary approach of the Victorian government is similar to that adopted in New Zealand which aimed at total elimination of the virus. However, the national strategy of Australia goes for suppression rather than elimination. I believe and hope that the current approach will keep Victoria clean and beneficial to Victorians. However, the Victorian government should provide greater support so that Victorians can endure the extra pain imposed by the government.

Yes, we support taking greater risks in holding the Covidsafe Australian Open at a Covid normal society at this moment. We believe this is beneficial to Victoria and Australia. However, the cost should not be born only by Victorians.

 

Raymond Chow
Publisher, BlessingCALD

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