Here’s a quick wrap of the COVID-19 news and case numbers from each Australian jurisdiction for the past week, as reported on Friday, March 24, 2023.
The states and territories are now reporting their COVID-19 statistics weekly instead of through the daily updates initially provided from the early days of the pandemic.
News you may have missed
Genetic material collected at a Chinese market near where the first human cases of COVID-19 were identified show raccoon-dog DNA commingled with the virus, adding evidence to the theory the virus originated from animals, not from a lab, international experts say. Read the full story here.
We may have an autumn surge in flu cases, so you’d best start planning for your flu shot soon, write Robert Booy and Ian Barr. Read the full story here.
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The state has recorded 8,563 COVID-19 cases, down from 8,905 last week.
There are 873 cases in hospital; 13 of those are in intensive care.
There were 22 new deaths announced today.
There have been another 4,467 COVID-19 cases, up from 3,960 last week.
The rolling average of people in hospital has risen to 152 cases, with 10 people in intensive care.
There were 25 new deaths announced today.
One thing to know: Scientists push to change COVID-19 antiviral guidelines
Australia’s rules on who can get affordable COVID-19 antivirals are “excessive” and should be relaxed, according to several prominent scientists.
Antivirals have been shown to reduce the chance of hospitalisation or death by almost 90 per cent in vaccinated people and are widely available in Europe and the United States.
In Australia, a person with COVID must be 70-plus, or above 50 and have two serious medical conditions to get antivirals like Paxlovid and Molnupiravir under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
People 18 and over who are immunocompromised, and First Nations people over 30 with one “risk factor” are also eligible.
The guidelines for who can receive COVID antivirals are set by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).
UQ’s COVID vaccine technology finally moves to human trial phase
A human trial has been launched into the University of Queensland’s (UQ) second-generation COVID vaccine, more than two years after the original technology was abandoned amid patients falsely testing positive for HIV.
UQ scientists have re-engineered the molecular clamp technology and need 70 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 50 to test its effectiveness as a COVID vaccine compared to the approved Novavax shot.
Although the trial will assess the technology – dubbed Clamp2 — as a COVID vaccine, the researchers say if it’s successful, it’s more likely to be used to protect people during future pandemics and in jabs for existing viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
One more thing: Boris Johnson admits he misled parliament over lockdown parties
Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson has released his defence to a parliamentary Privileges Committee investigation into whether he misled parliament when he denied parties were held at No 10 Downing Street during Britain’s COVID-19 lockdown.
Mr Johnson admitted he misled parliament when he gave an account to the House of Commons following media reports that several staff gatherings were held during strict periods of lockdown, a scandal dubbed “partygate”.
Mr Johnson claimed he did not have the full story when he assured the House everything was above board.
“I believed – and I still believe – that this was the earliest opportunity at which I could make the necessary correction.
“It was not fair or appropriate to give a half-baked account, before the facts had been fully and properly established.”