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Australia Covid live news update: Victoria records 246 new cases; NSW infections expected to rise; Pfizer vaccines arrive from UK | Australia news

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Indigenous affairs minister Ken Wyatt and the head of the national peak body for Aboriginal medical services, Pat Turner, have met with religious leaders to encourage them to counter misinformation about coronavirus vaccines that have been spread by fringe Christian groups in remote communities.

Guardian Australia has reported on how misinformation spread by Christian groups is driving vaccine hesitancy in remote areas. The head of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service in WA told us last week that people were being told “you don’t need to have the vaccine because God’s going to save you”. WA senator Pat Dodson, who is also based in the Kimberley, said such messages were “as evil as the evil that they purport to be defending people from”.

Wyatt said the meeting he hosted on Friday was about getting “advice” from religious leaders “on how to talk in a way that is respectful of people’s beliefs while keeping people safe from serious illness and death”. They will meet again this week to finalise the messaging for an anti-misinformation campaign.

Wyatt said:

Indigenous vaccination rates are increasing but I remain very concerned about reports that vaccines are being rejected as a result of conspiracies and misinformation stoking fear and doubt.

Our spiritual leaders will be crucial in ensuring positive messages succeed. To that end, uniting faith-based and medical messaging will be key to stamping out the dangerous rhetoric and boost vaccine uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Turner, the CEO of Naccho, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should be aiming for 100% vaccination rates, which would be “very challenging in the face of this dangerous misinformation”.

She said:

Social media might be the vehicle for anti-vax messaging in urban areas, but in regional and remote areas, word-of-mouth is also incredibly powerful, which is why positive messaging straight from our pastors will be key.

A senior UN official has warned the climate crisis will “wreak havoc” across the Australian economy if coal is not rapidly phased out, and joined those explicitly calling for the Morrison government to adopt more ambitious emissions reduction goals.

In a pre-recorded speech to an Australian National University forum to be held on Monday, Selwin Hart, the UN’s assistant secretary general for climate action and special advisor to the secretary general, reiterated calls for OECD countries such as Australia to stop using coal by 2030.

Hart, a former top diplomat and climate official for Barbados, highlighted the extent to which the Morrison government has become isolated by resisting calls to set a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2050, but said greater action this decade was just as important.

You can read the full report below:


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Blue-tongue lizards have developed a resistance to the venom of the red-bellied black snake, according to new research.

The largest animals in the skink family, blue-tongues seem to have evolved a chemical resistance to the snake venom, while carnivorous monitor lizards – goannas – that feed on Australia’s venomous snakes have not.

Researchers at the University of Queensland have analysed the effects of seven snake venoms on the blood of two species of blue-tongues – the common blue-tongued skink and the shingleback – and three goanna species, all of which would interact with these snakes in the wild.

In a study published in the journal Toxins, they found the blue-tongues seemed to have evolved a specific blood component – a serum factor – that prevents their blood from clotting when exposed to red-bellied black snake venom.

You can read the full, delightful, report below:


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The Groucho

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