Australia moves to ban anti-racism protest citing virus

Aboriginal elder Latona Dungay (C), whose son David Dungay died in a Sydney prison in 2015, speaks outside the Supreme Court in Sydney on June 5, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 05 June 2020

Australia moves to ban anti-racism protest citing virus

  • Australia has detected a sustained drop in the number of COVID-19 cases
  • Civil rights protests shaking the United States have resonated with many in Australia

SYDNEY: Australian police on Friday moved to ban a Black Lives Matter protest planned in Sydney, citing the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Around 10,000 people are expected to march in Sydney on Saturday to express solidarity with US protesters and demand an end to frequent Aboriginal deaths in custody in Australia.
On the eve of the protest, the police — backed by prominent local conservatives — launched legal action to ban the rally on health grounds.
Australia has detected a sustained drop in the number of COVID-19 cases, but social distancing rules remain in force and mass gatherings are not permitted.
The New South Wales Supreme Court was asked to declare the protest illegal.
“We have commenced legal action on the basis that we don’t believe the protest can be conducted in a safe way,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.
Civil rights protests shaking the United States have resonated with many in Australia — a country that also wrestles with the legacy of a racist past.
Several protests have already taken place across Australia and the planned march in Sydney is one among several due to take place on Saturday.
Organizers hope to highlight the high levels of imprisonment for First Nations Australians and the large number of indigenous deaths in custody — more than 400 in the last three decades.
The legal action was a U-turn for the police — who initially granted the Sydney event the green light — and follows heavy criticism of the protest in the country’s conservative media.
Organizers were determined to go ahead, using a groundswell of public opinion to press for long-stalled reforms.
“Tomorrow, we are going to march if they like it or not, because this is our land and nothing is going to stop any of us,” said Latona Dungay, whose son David died in prison in 2015.
Green party parliamentarian David Shoebridge attacked the move as heavyhanded, calling for police to take a more nuanced approach.
“This is not what’s needed. This needs cooperation and understanding, not force,” Shoebridge said.
Protesters in Melbourne were similarly warned they could face fines for attending a rally in the city, with authorities urging people to stay home.
Earlier on Friday, hundreds of protesters gathered in the nation’s capital Canberra even as Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged people to stay home.
“Let’s find a better way and another way to express these sentiments rather than putting your own health at risk,” Morrison said.
He admitted there was more to be done to address indigenous inequality but continued to reject parallels with the United States.
“Australia is not other places, so let’s deal with this as Australians and not appropriate what’s happening in other countries to our country at this time.”


US to pay over $1bn for 100m doses of J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

Updated 05 August 2020

US to pay over $1bn for 100m doses of J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

  • The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J
  • This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country

WASHINGTON: The United States government will pay Johnson & Johnson over $1 billion for 100 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine, its latest such arrangement as the race to tame the pandemic intensifies, the drugmaker said on Wednesday.
It said it would deliver the vaccine to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) on a not-for-profit basis to be used after approval or emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
J&J has already received $1 billion in funding from the US government — BARDA agreed in March to provide that money for the company to build manufacturing capacity for more than 1 billion doses of the experimental vaccine.
The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J. Including the first $1 billion deal with the USgovernment, the price would be slightly higher than the $19.50 per dose that the United States is paying for the vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc. and German biotech BioNTech SE.
The US government may also purchase an additional 200 million doses under a subsequent agreement. J&J did not disclose that deal’s value.
J&J plans to study a one- or two-dose regimen of the vaccine in parallel later this year. A single-shot regimen could allow more people to be vaccinated with the same number of doses and would sidestep issues around getting people to come back for their second dose.
This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country. Talks are underway with the European Union, but no deal has yet been reached.
J&J’s investigational vaccine is currently being tested on healthy volunteers in the United States and Belgium in an early-stage study.
There are currently no approved vaccines for COVID-19. More than 20 are in clinical trials.