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Dying Australian man finally home after 14 months trapped overseas
Quickly there is some good news this morning! In fact great news!
If you have been following along you might remember the Guardian has been reporting on John Jobber, a terminally ill Tasmanian man who has been trapped for the last 14 months in Ireland unable to get home.
He visited the UK and Ireland in early 2020, intending to spend a few weeks with his daughter and say goodbye to old family and friends. But suddenly the pandemic broke out and Australia’s borders were closed.
His daughters, Samantha John in Melbourne and Melissa Jobber in Ireland have been fighting tirelessly to get back to Tasmania to fulfil his final wish of dying peacefully at home.
But multiple attempts to fly to Melbourne were thwarted by lockdowns in both countries, and Victoria’s stopping and starting approach to international flights and hotel quarantine.
Well finally, after more than a year, Jobber touched down in South Australia last night and is now safety quarantining in an Adelaide hospital.
Samantha said she was delighted to finally have him home:
It’s been a rollercosters. I’m relieved and anxious.
After Guardian Australia first reported on Jobber’s situation, Qatar Airlines reached out to the family and helped them book new flights. The plan was Melissa would fly to Australia with her father, who is suffering from severe dementia, to ensure he was safe and took his medication. They would land, he would go to hospital and she would get straight back on a plane to Ireland.
But, Samatha explained even hours before take-off, it still looked like they might not make it.
My sister was frantically finalising all the paperwork, packing, doing PCR tests and getting him to his last dialysis when a text came through just saying the flight was cancelled “due to operational reasons”.
We couldn’t believe it. So she contacted [the families Qatar Airline representative] to ask why. He said “hold on I’ll get back to you”.
Before he rang back an hour or so later, another text message had been received confirming the flight will go ahead as scheduled.
He rang back and said there was no way THAT flight was going to be cancelled on his watch.
Around 9 pm last night Jobber touched down, said a quick goodbye to Mellissa and was whisked off to hospital for quarantine and dialysis.
Now all that is left is for Samantha to get him back to his home:
The baton has been handed to me to get him safely back to Tasmania via Victoria between dialysis sessions and then his ongoing care…
I’m looking forward to a huge hug with him.
You can read our previous coverage here:
A number of different countries have issues of different ages for AstraZeneca advisories. Paul Kelly has been asked why Australia settled on “50” as the cut-off:
I can understand that people are interested in how those decisions have been made.
It’s important that local context* is taken into account and that’s what’s happened and has presumably influenced other advice. We have been in very close contact with our European colleagues at the European medicines association, the ATAGI equivalent as well in Europe as well as in the UK, the regulator and their immunisation advisory group, they have used exactly the same data as we have been using because most of these extremely rare events have happened in Europe and in the UK and that’s where many millions of doses have been used of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
It is the same data but taking into account local circumstances. We have chosen – the choice by the medical advisory group is 50. That’s based on that risk-benefit equation** for the Australian circumstances. So that’s what we’re going with.
* The local context is that the UK said “under 40’s”, but we had a 44-year-old man that suffered from non-fatal blood clotting, so have gone “under 50” instead.
** Basically, while the 40 to 50 age bracket is slightly more susceptible to serious Covid-19, there is vastly less Covid-19 in Australia so they are still considered low risk.
Chief medical officer Paul Kelly seems reasonably confident that the vaccine rollout delay won’t drastically change Australia’s ability to live normally:
The Australian Health Protection Committee with the Chief Health Officer group that I chair has had really strong and meaningful and very good discussions about our reactions to outbreaks and so forth, including the issue of border closures, and that information will go to national cabinet today and will be discussed by the premiers and the prime minister and I’ll be there to assist them.
Paul Kelly has been asked if Australia needs to be making additional deals with international vaccine producers in order to make up for the shortfall:
All of those things are on the table. We are looking at all of those options right now.
We know that Novavax, we have 51 million doses on order, but that’s not yet approved by the TGA. We don’t have the final components of their clinical trials but, when we do, the TGA, as it did with the other two vaccines we have been using in the last couple of months will absolutely expedite that matter and as soon as Novavax is ready to supply to Australia we will be going through those processes.
In terms of Pfizer, as I say, we are talking to that company and we have been talking to that company. We continue to talk to that company and we’ll see what transpires from those talks.
Chief medical officer Prof Paul Kelly says the benefits of the vaccine program still “far outweigh the risks”, urging the public not to lose confidence.
He is speaking on ABC News Breakfast now:
Of course, something like the announcements overnight can affect vaccine confidence.
As I said last night at the press conference, the important thing is for the Australian public to know that as soon as we’ve known something, as soon as our expert advice from that ATAGI group that gives us the guidance on immunisation have given Australia a decision, we went out. It was within 15 minutes we told the nation about these matters and to follow through as we did until about midnight last night to make sure that GPs and other vaccine providers today have all that information to have those discussions with people who have concerns.
For young people, and indeed for all Australians, the benefits of the vaccine program far outweigh any risks and that continues to be the case.
We’ve made this preference for not using AstraZeneca in the under 50s on the basis of that safety concern but vaccination in general is absolutely important and I would really urge people to make sure that they are lining up when their turn comes to get the appropriate vaccine.
Morning all, Matilda Boseley, here.
Let’s not beat around the bush. We all know why you are here. Let’s talk about AstraZeneca.
At 7.15pm, the prime minister called a press conference to announce that the AstraZeneca vaccine is now not recommended for people under 50 years old, due to extraordinarily rare but potentially fatal blood clotting in younger people.
There has been an extremely small number of cases of a specific type of blood clotting called “low platelet blood clotting” in people after they receive the AstraZeneca jab. This was generally in people under 50. This led to the EU declaring blood clotting should be listed as a possible but rare side effect, and caused the UK to recommend other vaccines to be used on people under 30 when possible.
This prompted a review by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.
Here is chief medical officer Paul Kelly explaining the recommendations:
At the current time, the use of the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine in adults aged less than 50 years who have not already received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This is based both on the increased risk of complications from Covid-19 with increasing age, and thus increased benefit of the vaccination, and the potentially lower, but not zero risk, of this rare event with increasing age.
The second recommendation is that immunisation providers should only give the first dose of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to adults under 50 years of age where the benefit clearly outweighs the risk for that individual’s circumstances.
The third recommendation is people that have had their first dose of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca without any serious adverse events can safely be given their second dose. This includes adults under the age of 50. People who have had blood clots associated with low platelet levels after their first dose of Covid-19 AstraZeneca should not be given the second dose.
Thank gosh our rollout doesn’t rely almost entirely on the domestic production of AstraZeneca, pumping out 1m doses a week … oh wait.
There are about 12 million people aged between 18 and 49 who will now ideally be given the Pfizer vaccine, but Australia currently only has contracts for 20m doses, enough for 10 million people, and international supply chains are already unreliable.
Basically the long and short of it is this is likely to create yet another extremely significant delay in Australia’s already limping vaccine rollout.
There is plenty of other stuff to look out for as well today, but why don’t we jump into the day for now.
If there is something you reckon I’ve missed or think should be in the blog but isn’t, shoot me a message on Twitter @MatildaBoseley or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Coronavirus Australia live update: Covid vaccine rollout suffers major setback as under-50s told to avoid AstraZeneca | Australia news