Focus should be on making our own mRNA vaccines

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COVID-19

Focus should be on making our own mRNA vaccines

The complete failure of vaccination of our nation has left Australians vulnerable and at the mercy of the Delta variant. I am calling for the federal government in partnership with the states, business and unions to invest in the development of our mRNA vaccine-producing capability in Australia. Let’s not stop at vaccines, let’s also invest in finding cures.

This has to be thought of as our nation’s defence system against the dangers of the current and future strains. There isn’t any time to waste and it actually is a race. The next variant is just around the corner.

Australia used to be the clever country. The lack of vision and strategy in this phase of the pandemic is nothing short of the greatest failure of public health administration in our nation’s history. Let’s stop being reliant on deals with big pharma. We have numerous leaders in medical science in Australia and our universities are at the forefront of research and knowledge. We also have the prestigious CSL, which could be scaled up to create an alternative to the AstraZeneca viral vector vaccine.

The Victorian government has made a start but this needs to be front and centre of our nation’s response to the perils we are facing.
Mary Howe, Bentleigh

Lack of understanding
Matt Canavan needs to chat with epidemiologists and not virologists before making rash statements about not controlling COVID-19 tightly. A recent article in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, shows the death rate in hospitals from COVID-19 is 16.8 per cent compared with 5.3 per cent for influenza.

Based on this study, which is consistent with similar published data on mortality associated with COVID-19, does Canavan really mean he would be comfortable with six deaths a day or more from COVID-19 in Australia? That scenario would seem difficult to sell to the Australian public as a strategy to keep businesses viable.

Somehow I doubt that Canavan fully understands the impact of failing to control a virus with high levels of transmission, mortality and disease impact. This lack of understanding of how to apply evidence to a significant scientific dilemma is consistent with his past actions on climate change.
John Togno, Mandurang

Hurry up and wait
My Dad, in his 90s and in care, has had a Pfizer vaccine. My Mum, also in her 90s, and I have been told to hurry up and get the vaccine. I have seen the local GP twice. Mum has made many phone calls only to be told you have to wait as there are 3000 in the queue with appointments in front of us and we may have the vaccine by October or November. So what we are being told is hurry up and wait.
Simon Muntz, Castlemaine

Be a leader, not just a Liberal
We empathise with our neighbours in NSW. Despite the hard lessons learnt over the past year or so, Victorians on the whole have come to trust our State Public Health response. Learnings have been applied rigorously and together we’ve managed, largely, to keep each other safe. But we all remain vulnerable until we are vaccinated. The majority of the workforce is under the age of 60, and many people under the age of 40 will not be eligible for vaccination until the fourth quarter of this year. These are our teachers, aged care and childcare workers, retail and hospitality staff, tradies – the people we rely on every day. The current advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation is that for Australians under 60, the Pfizer mRNA vaccine is preferred. And Pfizer remains in limited supply.

What is the federal government doing to resolve this desperate situation? The Prime Minister, hiding behind a man in a uniform, launches a couple of ads masquerading as public health advice, ostensibly to encourage Australians to get vaccinated. When, Prime Minister, and what with? Do your job, Scott Morrison, be a leader, not just a Liberal.
Margaret Mikulin, St Leonards

THE FORUM

Demolishing history
Parks Victoria has failed to act when it has known for years that repairs to the Flinders and Hampton piers were needed. Demolition seems the next move. This seems common practice as the Westerfolds Park Manor House in Templestowe is also at risk. Last used eight years ago as an Indigenous art gallery and cafe it has remained empty and in need of urgent repairs. No information has been provided other than commercial in confidence, now this magnificent house is left to rot. Something needs to change at the top, these structures are part of our history.
Ron Reynolds, Templestowe

No winners
So, “Branson wins moguls’ race to space” (The Age, 13/7). For Pete’s sake we have more than enough problems here on Earth, e.g. global warming, overpopulation … the list is endless. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to solve them, rather than creating more?
Ron Hayton, Beaumaris

Cost of space adventure
Bezos and Musk’s dreams of space tourism, why aren’t the Greens of the world marching in the streets over the environmental cost of this profit-motivated adventurism and the misplaced use of their enormous financial resources? Where is the global left when we need them?
Robert Lang, Toorak

A step forward
Long needed, a mental health facility for women. Young women with acute symptoms are particularly vulnerable in a ward with aggressive male patients.

Cabrini is to be applauded for this step forward, but state mental hospitals should follow suit. Mixing of the sexes is fashionable, but this area of health solely for women is sorely needed.
Pam Swirski, Berwick

Each goal precious
Clearly, Richard Fisher (Letters, 13/7) is unaware of the main reason that soccer is by far the biggest football code in the world. It’s the importance of each goal that makes it so exciting. I was on the edge of my seat as England clung onto its lead. So “no doubt the low-scoring nature of the game” is what makes it infinitely superior to the high-scoring nature of Aussie rules when frequently the result is never in doubt.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont

Extra time, not shootouts
Not sure what can be done to avoid the dramatic but cruel penalty shootout at the end of soccer finals. The best solution would be a rematch a day or two later, but then that game might also end in a draw. A quicker and better solution would be for each team to play extra time with fewer men – 10 for the first 15 minutes, then nine for the second 15 minutes, then maybe seven and no goalkeeper for as long as it takes.
Lindsay Zoch, Mildura

Time ripe to act on Crown
“A problem to be solved” or “an opportunity to be grasped” was a dilemma facing legislators over reconstruction after the American Civil War. This seems to mirror the opposing options regarding Crown casino’s extensive malfeasance.

It is probably too much to hope that Crown, with its insidious gambling and illegal activities, will be caused to disappear completely but perhaps the findings of the royal commission could lead to a renegotiation of the government’s contract with the company. This could start with deleting clauses that provide for compensation should any future legislation affect Crown’s income. The list of other possibilities is surely vast and the leverage now exists for such action.
Ken Weaver, East Brighton

Proud of ‘our’ fans
I was on Lygon Street and saw how well-behaved the Italian fans were with a police force that were consummate professionals with no heavy-handed tactics. It was an electrifying atmosphere full of passion and love for the beautiful game.

Seeing the ugly scenes from Wembley with English hooligans I am so proud to live in Melbourne where the majority of fans were civilised. It makes me proud to live in such a wonderful city and seeing how we can all celebrate sport with a fan base and police force that’s one of the friendliest in the world.
Melina Smith, Brighton

Reducing diabetes stigma
It’s Diabetes Week, but who cares? Well, I do. As a type 2 diabetic, I’m resentful about the ongoing monitoring of my glucose levels, diet, cholesterol, blood pressure – even my eyesight and condition of my feet! Am I embarrassed to admit it? Yes, largely because of people’s ignorant assumptions about the cause of diabetes. Mine began as gestational diabetes with two pregnancies, “disappeared” for 25 years, then returned. This year, Diabetes Australia has adopted its key campaign message by addressing the stigma of the “blame and shame surrounding diabetes”.

There are 2 million Australians diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – and an estimated 1 million-plus who have it, but don’t know it. Diabetes Australia called it the “silent pandemic” before we lived through a boisterous one. The most effective way to reduce the stigma, is to better inform the wider community.

And, given that genetics plays an increasing role in developing type 2 diabetes, it’s time more people realised it could happen to anyone.
Sally Davis, Malvern East

Stop China rhetoric
Percy Allan’s article, (“Chipping away at the Great Wall”, The Age, 13/7), was impressive in its recognition of China’s vulnerabilities, notably the looming “middle income trap” and the need to engage with the world if it is to avoid an inevitable contradiction between ongoing economic success and the inexorable need for a democratic-style openness to ensure the latter. Allan rightly alludes to the historic collapse of the Soviet Union as a parallel, especially given how many US Sovietologists in the 1970s and 1980s still saw the Kremlin regime as unassailable. Acknowledging China’s dilemmas is, arguably, more fruitful than the Australian government’s ramping up of archaic Cold War rhetoric.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Act in good faith
It is refreshing to read an article about China that does not present that nation as a bully and an imminent threat to world peace. There is much about China that is distasteful and alien to our concept of democracy and personal freedom, but hundreds of millions of Chinese have benefited economically from socialism with Chinese characteristics. In contrast, our Western democracies are bogged down in petty squabbling, point scoring and sheer nastiness, where the main aim is to get re-elected at any cost and compromise is seen as sign of moral weakness. We have passed the point where there could ever be a winnable war with China. The West will have to rely on good faith negotiation to deal with China from this point on.
Peter Barry, Marysville

Pick up the phone
Surely the main issue regarding Kevin Rudd’s call to the chief executive of Pfizer is not that he didn’t (as claimed) influence the ultimate outcome, but rather that big business in Australia felt the need to ask a former prime minister to intercede and do what the current Prime Minister should have been doing in the first place – pick up the phone.
Brandon Mack, Deepdene

Truth-telling evident
I thank Israel lobbyist, Jamie Hyams (“Suspicion ABC watchdog is too tame for the job”, The Age, 13/7), for directing me to view ABC’s May 27 Q&A on trauma and truth-telling, but I must agree with the concurrent comments from viewers saying “Phenomenal panel tonight” and “This is the best qanda I’ve seen in years”.

There was truth-telling despite the two agenda-setting questions being decidedly pro-Israel. The ABC is not the IBC.
Mark Bradbeer, Brunswick

Bring back hardwood
Once upon a time, about 30 years ago, almost all new houses in Victoria were built with strong, hardwood timber frames. This hardwood came from logs sawn at scores of sawmills around Victoria. Now, in 2021, virtually no mills produce hardwood framing timber, because softwood (pine) timber now dominates the framing market. We are now dependent on costly imported softwood to supplement our local supplies (“Timber prices to keep climbing”, The Age, 13/7).

However, we have a potentially huge supply of hardwood timber on our doorstep. The government only needs to reverse its plan to shut down the native forest timber industry, so that sawmills could see a viable future. Then, if builders re-adopted hardwood framing for a proportion of new houses, prices should drop as the availability of timber increased.
Peter Fagg, Blackburn

Bats face annihilation
The bushfires of 2019-20 and North America’s current heatwave horrors indicate what the new normal looks like. For most wildlife 48-50 degrees centigrade is catastrophic. For our grey-headed flying fox camps without cooling sprinklers, that is, nearly all the Federal Department of Environment’s Registered Colonies of National Significance, it will mean annihilation.

The pollination ecosystem services of these far-travelling bats will be lost. Our agriculture crops are pollinated by the bees and insects that live in the forests flying foxes help build and regenerate: they are important. Government agencies need to prepare colonies for 50-degree days if they are to be saved.
Lawrence Pope, Friends of Bats & Bushcare Inc.

Farewell Danny
So Danny Katz has written his last column. Over the years, I have laughed, I have cried and quite often I have scratched my head after reading his columns. I guess he may have mined the very last bit of “gold” from the dinner parties, supermarket visits and “hair issues”. I hope The Age has a trainee confabulator in the wings.
David Fry, Moonee Ponds

AND ANOTHER THING …

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Politics
To be fair, Health Minister Greg Hunt does appear to know what he is talking about when it comes to not making any material difference.
Roan Plotz, Preston

Keep chuckling Greg, all the way to the next election when you also will become irrelevant.
John Uren, Blackburn

So good to hear from the “minister for chuckles”.
Royce Bennett, Baxter

Doesn’t James Merlino realise that all states are equal, but some are more equal than others.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

COVID-19
Calling in a general to speed up the rollout of the non-existent vaccines reminds me of the old military saying: “Hurry up and wait.”
Derek Wilson, Cheltenham

Gladys Berejiklian is endangering the health of everyone in the country by employing a Claytons lockdown.
Michael Higgins, Erica

NSW – Not So Wonderful when it comes to COVID management. What will Josh say?
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

When COVID-19 jumped ship early last year in Sydney little did we realise that it planned to go around Australia. Let’s hope it departs soon now that it’s gone full circle.
Jennifer Barden, Fitzroy North

Keeping coronavirus out of Victoria is a bit like a game of “Whack-a-Mole” – only a lot less fun.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh

A challenge to all TV news programs – can we hear the sound of the border slamming shut?
Georgina Simmons, Mornington

Furthermore
Such irony. An organisation that has failed the public interest so abysmally in its peddling of destruction and misery via its product, claiming it’s “not in the public interest for Crown to fail”.
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris

Ungrateful tennis crowds don’t deserve Novak Djokovic, but I’m sure that it matters little to him as he cements his standing as the greatest men’s player of all time.
James Alexander, Melbourne


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