March 21, 2023

Australia politics live: Morrison considers cabinet reshuffle, NSW MP Michael Johnsen denies rape allegation

Christian Porter reportedly to be shifted and Linda Reynolds dumped in changes to Coalition frontbench....

Christian Porter reportedly to be shifted and Linda Reynolds dumped in changes to Coalition frontbench. Follow all the developments live

  • Speculation grows about cabinet reshuffle
  • Michael Johnsen to take leave after NSW parliament told government MP allegedly raped sex worker

1.16am GMT

Earlier this week, AstraZeneca released more data to support its vaccine efficacy. The interim results from the phase 3 clinical trial of more than 32,000 people found the vaccine was 79% effective against symptomatic disease, and 100% effective against severe disease and death.

But soon after the results were published, questions were raised in the US by the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board, which said AstraZeneca may have provided “outdated information” from the trial, which gave “an incomplete view” of the results.

In response, AstraZeneca has just released the additional data which confirm the efficacy results reported earlier this week. This has now been presented to the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board. An additional 49 cases have now been added to the previously announced interim analysis.

The primary endpoint, vaccine efficacy at preventing symptomatic Covid-19, was 76%, occurring 15 days or more after receiving two doses given four weeks apart. In addition, results were comparable across age groups, with vaccine efficacy of 85% in adults 65 years and older. A key secondary endpoint, preventing severe or critical disease and hospitalisation, demonstrated 100% efficacy.

It is such a shame that a vaccine with so much evidence supporting its safety as well as efficacy continues to be shrouded in controversy.

We heard very positive news almost a week ago that the European Medical Authority’s safety committee concluded that the vaccine was not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots and therefore the benefits of receiving the vaccine continue to outweigh the risk of side effects.

1.13am GMT

Australian officials say they continue to make representations to the Chinese government over the situation of the detained Australian writer Dr Yang Hengjun and the detained Australian journalist Cheng Lei.

Lynette Wood, a Dfat official, says Australia has made 16 representations to China on Yang’s situation since the last Senate estimates in October. She notes that on 12 October 2020, China stated Yang had been charged with espionage. “We continue to have regular consular access,” she says.

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