Wednesday, December 15, 2021

What to do with our most successful vax researcher for decades? Sack him

The South Australian government has declared there will be no more “exemptions” from mandates for people who take part in clinical trials. So workers taking a locally made vaccine, called Covax-19, will have to take approved vaccines as well or get sacked. It doesn’t matter what their antibody count is, or whether it might even be risky to follow up Covax with a different vaccine. It’s not about their health, don’t you know?

Covax-19 is a traditional old fashioned protein vaccine. It’s still the old WuFlu spike, though without the furin cleavage sequence (which probably makes it safer). It’s been approved for use in Iran, and given to two million people there, remarkably with apparently no incidence of myocarditis or blood clots. Perhaps that’s the problem — it’s a threat to the current vaccines?

Since Prof Nikolai Petrovski tested Covax on himself before testing it on others, he may have to be sacked for not also getting vaccinated with an approved vaccine. He is no longer allowed to attend Flinders University or the Flinders Medical Centre, according to the ABC.

Great way to promote Australian science: Let bureaucrats decide which vaccine the Professors of vaccines should take. What could possibly go wrong?

ABC Radio: South Australians taking part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial will no longer be exempt from state government mandates affecting schools, aged care and health care centres.

The problem, it seems, was that Covax-19 was too popular.

A number of prominent local social media platforms have been advocating for people to avoid having vaccines approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) by signing up to planned COVAX-19 clinical trials.

And we wouldn’t want people to have a choice, would we?

It’s not that Petrovsky’s vax didn’t work or caused harm. It was because people might be signing up to avoid getting Pfizer, Moderna or Astrazenica. And if that were the case, surely the solution would be to rush supplies of Covax to Australia? It’s what the hesitant people want after all. But that’s not what the SA government suggested.

Like a Christmas present for Pfizer?

With these rules newcomer-vaccines will find it harder to get trial participants as people are forced out of the early trials with draconian threats.

I guess we wouldn’t want to accidentally discover a better vaccine when we’ve ordered 100 billion boosters already in secret contracts that may have given away the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Who needs Australian made vaccines, Australian expertise, and Australian profits? It’s so much better to have supply lines to Marburg and Massachusetts with vaccines approved through secret data by the FDA.

For what it’s worth, even with all the hurdles bureaucrats are putting in the way, the people are working to make this happen. So the GoFundMe campaign for this vaccine has raised $782,000 and thousands of people have signed up to participate.

Works in Iran:

By way of update, 2 million doses of our vaccine have now been safely distributed through immunization centres in Iran. There have been no reports of anaphylaxis, myocarditis or blood clotting, which given the extremely large number of doses administered is extremely reassuring.

Trial Ethics and TGA applications are both submitted and we will let you know when we hear anything further. We have added a link to a recent interview of Prof. Petrovsky for your interest. We are now 3/4 of the way to our target.


NAPLAN: Principals and teachers say it is ineffective and outdated, in Australian Education Union survey

Parents and education experts have hit out at principals and teachers after a survey slammed the national NAPLAN tests as being “ineffective and outdated”.

Australian Parents Council President Jenni Rickard also rejected claims in the survey by the Australian Education Union that the tests increased teachers’ workload, saying NAPLAN was about recording a “point in time” and there should be no prepping.

Ms Rickard said NAPLAN was also valuable to parents as an independent assessment and “a mechanism to ensure government departments are accountable and transparent”.

“It works as a test of the whole system from the bottom to the top,” she said.

The Australian Education Union surveyed more than 260 public school principals and nearly 3000 teachers across the country,

It found 73 per cent of principals believe NAPLAN increases teacher workloads; 86 per cent said the tests contribute to students’ stress and anxiety and 59 per cent said they make no difference to student outcomes.

More than 60 per cent of teachers said NAPLAN – undertaken by students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 – was an ineffective diagnostic tool.

Education author Dr Kevin Don­nelly criticised the AEU for its long history of opposing tests such as NAPLAN, saying it did not want schools to be held accountable for the billions invested and the fact students’ results in international tests were going backwards.

“We need NAPLAN to monitor and evaluate whether standards are improving or not,” Dr Donnelly said.

But AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said “NAPLAN is not fit for purpose in our schools” and should be scrapped and replaced with classroom-based and teacher-led assessments, along with sample-based testing.

Whites Hill State College Principal Andrew Beattie, based in Queensland, said NAPLAN caused “performance anxiety” among the children, especially in Year 5, as their results could determine which high school they went to.

He said many hours were wasted teaching children how to do the “unique” exam, instead of teaching them numeracy and literacy.

New analysis of this year’s NAPLAN results out on Wednesday shows students in Years 3 and 5 reading, Year 5 numeracy, and Years 3 and 5 spelling have significantly improved nationally since the tests began in 2008, but these improvements were not reflected in every demographic group, according to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

“We can now also see that the main group of students who fell behind the national average in Years 7 and 9 reading and Years 3 and 7 numeracy, compared to the base year, were students whose parents did not complete Year 12,” ACARA CEO David de Carvalho said

He defended NAPLAN, saying it allowed parents, teachers, schools, education authorities, governments and the broader community to determine whether or not young Australians are developing the necessary literacy and numeracy skills.

Acting Federal Education Minister Stuart Robert added that NAPLAN has been critical to tracking student educational outcomes, especially during Covid.


Medical bureaucracy kills kid

A NSW Coroner has slammed a request by NSW Health to delay an inquest while it works to improve interstate patient transfers, four years after a teenager was left to die at Broken Hill Hospital without a single hospital in Adelaide willing to admit him.

Alex Braes is believed to have died from a type of flesh eating bacteria, known as necrotising fasciitis, after he was turned away three times from Broken Hill Hospital’s emergency department in 2017.

After he was finally admitted, Alex was stranded for hours awaiting medical evacuation to the city, with no hospitals in Adelaide willing to receive him and no pilot available to fly him to Sydney.

On Tuesday, an inquest heard Alex would have been more likely to have secured a bed in Adelaide if he was South Australian, and there had been an “extraordinary” bed shortage at the time due to the relocation of the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The NSW Ministry of Health was due to have a senior bureaucrat appear at the inquest to be grilled about the retrieval issues on Thursday.

However, the department’s lawyer requested the appearance be postponed because a meeting has been scheduled for Friday where a memorandum of understanding will be finalised with South Australian health bureaucrats to improve the situation.

“I have to say that given the amount of time that’s elapsed since Alex died, we would have greatly hoped to have a memorandum of understanding in place well before now,” Deputy State Coroner Elizabeth Ryan responded.

“I’m sure that’s what Alex’s parents would feel,” she said, as they nodded in agreement. “That’s very disappointing in itself.”

Dr Roy Fischer, who arranges medical retrievals on behalf of the South Australian Ambulance Service, detailed his efforts to find an ICU bed for Alex in Adelaide.

Dr Fischer said doctors in Broken Hill told him they had a working diagnosis of pulmonary embolism, a type of blood clot.

Alex was actually in septic shock due to a bacterial infection.

While both scenarios required urgent evacuation to a metropolitan centre, a blood clot could first be treated with medication in Broken Hill, while the flesh-eating bacteria could not because it required major surgery.

Dr Fischer said with hindsight, the hospitals may have responded with more urgency if they’d realised Adam couldn’t be treated at all in Broken Hill.

“The possibility of an improvement may have muddied the water somewhat,” he said.

Dr Fischer said he could not access Alex’s medical records or see him via a telehealth hook-up because of his location interstate.

There was also a lengthy process in South Australia for retrieving interstate patients, involving sourcing a bed before arranging transport and then organising a quote to be accepted by the receiving hospital.

The process had since been fast-tracked, but at the time of Alex’s death a quote could take up to half an hour, Dr Fischer said.

The same protracted process did not apply for people from South Australia.

“Is that a satisfactory situation, that a patient is treated differently based on state borders rather than their clinical needs?” the counsel assisting the coroner, Kirsten Edwards, asked.

“No,” Dr Fischer replied.

Dr Fischer said the drawn-out interstate transfer process meant in some situations it was quicker to send Broken Hill patients to Sydney, despite it being twice as far as Adelaide.

“By the time you had things like the quote … it eats into the difference quite significantly,” Dr Fischer said.


Motorists could be hit with a CBD tax and inner-city parking become even more expensive as the cost of traffic jams in Brisbane streets climbs

Slapping motorists with increased parking fees and a tax to enter the CBD would do more to alleviate traffic congestion than cutting public transport fares, which would only discourage people from walking or cycling to work, according to a new report.

They are part of the findings from a Productivity Commission report to be released on Wednesday.

The arrival of electric vehicles and the Morrison Government’s own EV policy means it is “critical” road user charges are implemented, it warned.

An overhaul of public transport fare prices, road user charges for entering the CBD at peak times, as well as charges per kilometre for certain peak traffic corridors, were among the recommendations.

The “social cost” of avoidable road congestion in Brisbane has hit $1400 per person, the report estimated.

It found the public transport fare price increases were not keeping up with the cost of running public transport, which Productivity Commission chair Michael Brennan said would eventually hurt government and council budgets.

“That has put service quality and frequency at risk, and these are the things that matter most to the users of the system,” Mr Brennan said.

The commission was unapologetic in its calls for road user charges, noting it was “oft-repeated and largely ignored”.

“Well-designed road user pricing could better target congestion and act as a funding source,” it stated.

It also said increasing parking fees, particularly during peak times, would do more to reduce congestion than encouraging more people to use public transport with lower fares.

“A 10 per cent increase in parking charges reduces car use by between about two and 13 times more than the reduction achieved by a 10 per cent decrease in public transport prices,” it found.

“By reducing demand for parking, higher fees can also reduce ‘cruising’ to find spare spots, which can also be a major source of road congestion.”

It also argued that road user charges, instead of cheaper peak public transport fares, would push more people into walking or cycling. “Lowering peak fares has the perverse effect of discouraging walking and cycling,” it stated.

Lowering public transport fares to encourage people back on to public transport after Covid-19 should also not be considered, as it would “savage revenue” without increasing patronage, it found.




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