Those in Port Hedland, Western Australia, were told the closest clinic was a six-hour drive away in Broome. Residents of Karratha were also told to make the drive to Broome, which would take eight hours and 20 minutes.
Even then, the website says the only available clinic in Broome is the local Aboriginal Medical Service.
In Esperance, Western Australia, residents were told by the website that the closest clinic was in Boulder, a four hour drive away.
Residents of Mount Gambier, South Australia, were told the closest clinic participating in the Covid-19 rollout is across the state border in Portland, Victoria, a drive of one hour and 20 minutes.
The problem is the result of a combination of factors. In some regional areas, the commonwealth simply has not yet activated GP clinics to participate in the vaccine rollout. That is expected to occur in coming weeks, but there is no indication on the website that another 3,000 GPs are soon to be activated.
The government’s website also does not appear to take into account the existence of state-run vaccination clinics being set up in regional towns, like Katherine and Esperance, or local hospitals that may have some involvement in the vaccination program.
The absence of such critical information comes at a time of huge demand for the website, triggered by Wednesday’s government announcement.
A spokesperson for the health department said roughly 1,000 new GP clinics will be joining the program each week, which would increase coverage and availability across the country.
Further access will also be granted through 100 respiratory clinics and Aboriginal community-controlled health services, which are not currently showing up on the website.
State-run clinics have so far been prioritising phase 1a patients and workers, but will soon begin servicing the phase 1b cohort, and will then appear on the website, the spokesperson said.
Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid told the Guardian there will be a limited supply for rural and regional practices initially, and that the first week of the 1b rollout “will look very urban”.
Khorshid was also critical that the government’s national vaccine booking system did not list all clinics participating in the rollout, and called for the government to update the website to incorporate state-run facilities to avoid regional Australians driving hours further for a vaccine than necessary.
“They tend to concentrate on their own level of government, but the states are administering vaccines at their own centres,” Khorshid said.
He said the government’s communication – which the AMA criticised in a joint statement with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) earlier this week – needed to be “regional specific” to avoid current confusion.
“At the end of the day we need to get the vaccine to every Australian,” he said.
Opposition health spokesperson Mark Butler told the Guardian “the chaotic vaccine rollout needs to get back on track”.
“There needs to be clearer information for regional Australians about how, when and where they can access the vaccine,” Butler said.
Rural Doctors Association president John Hall said the website had clearly experienced “teething problems” and that the government had “pulled the trigger too early”. He said he would raise the issue identified by the Guardian with government.
“That’s certainly something to feed back. We do know there’s been a few teething problems with this rollout this week, where the portal came online and was directing people to clinics and phone lines that weren’t live yet, and couldn’t book,” he said.
But Hall said he didn’t want to be too critical of government, given the huge logistical challenge it faced. He said after Friday afternoon’s meeting with the prime minister and health minister, he was confident that there won’t be gaps in regional delivery of the vaccines.
Hall said he was also reassured that the government was addressing communication issues with GPs, through regular fact sheets, a new 1800 phone number, more regular meetings with government, and $5m in funding for GP and staff mental health.
Concerns about the regional rollout follow the troubled launch of the government’s national vaccine booking website.
The government launched the national vaccine booking website on Wednesday morning, and it encountered significant issues almost immediately. The website didn’t offer online booking for most clinics, instead instructing eligible vaccine recipients to call the practice.
This meant receptionists were “inundated” with callers, according to the AMA and RACGP, with most forced to reject older Australians trying to book their vaccines because they were unsure of their supplies. Many clinics have limited their initial vaccine appointments to existing patients.
The government has called for patience in the initial phases of the 1b rollout, especially before locally produced AstraZeneca vaccines are distributed and significantly increase supplies. The Guardian understands the first locally produced vaccines will leave CSL’s Melbourne factory for delivery by early next week.
The Guardian contacted Greg Hunt for clarification on the regional rollout.
Printer ink continues to rank as one of the most expensive liquids around with a litre of the home office essential costing the same as a very high-end bottle of bubbly or an oak-aged Cognac.
Consumer advocate Which? has found that ink bought from printer manufactures can be up to 286 per cent more expensive than third-party alternatives.
Dipping its nib in one inkwell before delicately wiping off the excess on some blotting paper, Which? found that a multipack of colour ink (cyan, magenta, yellow) for the WorkForce WF-7210DTW printer costs £75.49 from Epson.
“This works out at an astonishing £2,410 a litre – or £1,369 for a pint,” said Which?.
The consumer outfit also reported that since the Epson printer also requires a separate Epson black cartridge for £31.99, it takes the combined cost of replacement inks for the Workforce printer to a wallet-busting £107.98.
On the other hand, if people ditched the brand and opted for a full set of black and colour inks from a reputable third-party supplier, it would cost just £10.99 – less than a tenth of the price.
Printing has become essential for plenty of workers holed up at home during the pandemic. The survey by Which? of 10,000 consumers found 54 per cent use their printer at least once a week. Which? said it estimates an inkjet cartridge would need to be replaced three times a year.
The report discovered tactics used by the big vendors to promote the use of “approved”, “original”, and “guaranteed” ink supplies.
It found Epson devices, for example, flagging up a “non-genuine ink detected” message on its LCD screen when using a non-Epson cartridge, and HP printers are actively blocking customers from using non-HP supplies.
Adam French, a consumer rights champion at Which?, reckons this situation is simply unacceptable.
“Printer ink shouldn’t cost more than a bottle of high-end Champagne or Chanel No. 5,” said French. “We’ve found that there are lots of third-party products that are outperforming their branded counterparts at a fraction of the cost.”
In a rallying call to consumers he said that third-party ink should be a personal choice and not “dictated by the make of your printer.”
“Which? will continue to make consumers aware of the staggering cost differences between own-brand and third-party inks and give people the information they need to buy the best ink for their printer,” he said.
The survey by Which? found that 16 third party brands beat the big brands in terms of ink prices.
Epson wasn’t the only printer biz to be singled out for sky-high ink prices. Canon, and HP were fingered too.
For its part, Epson said customers “should be offered choice… to meet their printing needs” and listed a number of options including its EcoTank systems and a monthly Ink Subscription service.
And in a nod to anyone looking to save money by using a third party, Epson said: “Finally, as non-genuine inks are not designed or tested by Epson we cannot guarantee that these inks will not damage the printer. Whilst Epson does not prevent the use of non-Epson inks, we believe that it is reasonable, indeed responsible, that a warning is displayed as any damage caused by the use of the inks may invalidate the warranty.”
HP has tried to battle against third party ink makers trying to capture supplies sales by overhauling the model of its printer business: by shifting to ink tanks printers that come pre-loaded with supplies for an estimated timeframe; or by selling the printer hardware for more upfront and allowing biz customers or consumers to buy the supplies they want.
In response to Which?, HP said it “offers quality, sustainable and secure print supplies with a range of options for customers to choose from, including HP Instant Ink – a convenient printing subscription service with over 9 million users that can save UK customers up to 70 per cent on ink costs, with ink plans starting at £0.99 per month.”
Reg readers may remember the kerfuffle around HP’s Instant Ink. The free plan was reinstated, sort of. For existing customers.
Over at Canon, a spokesperson said third-party ink products can work with its printers, but the “technology inside is designed to function correctly with our genuine inks which are formulated specifically to work with Canon technology.”
“Customers are encouraged to use genuine inks to ensure the longevity of their printer, and also to ensure that their final prints are of a standard we deem Canon quality. In addition, the use of third party inks invalidates the warranty of the printer.”
With almost four in ten (39 per cent) people saying that they do not use third-party cartridges because of fears that they might not work with their printer, it might go some way to explain why more than half (56 per cent) of the consumers quizzed said they persist with using potentially pricey original-branded cartridges despite cheaper alternatives being available. ®
The project adds to the 74 people already employed at the Artesyn Biosolutions facility acquired by Repligen in 2020.
Repligen Corporation is undertaking an expansion of its Waterford site which will see 130 new jobs created, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, has announced.
The life sciences company is building a new 3,000 sq m facility which will be a centre of excellence for single-use consumable products used in bioprocessing applications. The site currently hosts a 1,000 sq m facility employing 74 people, which was established by Ireland’s Artesyn Biosolutions before that company was acquired by Repligen last November.
Repligen Corporation is a multinational that produces bioprocessing products for use in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process. Headquartered in Massachusetts, the company has sites across the United States and in Estonia, France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as here in Ireland.
According to the company, the new building will be certified silver on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system from the US Green Building Council. The consumable products manufactured there will be used in filtration and chromatography systems during the production of vaccines and other biopharmaceutical products.
Commenting on the announcement, Varadkar said: “This is excellent news from Repligen with the creation of 130 new jobs in Waterford. It comes on foot of a major jobs announcement by Bausch and Lomb. Waterford is on the move as a centre for jobs and investment.
“I wish the team the very best with their expansion plans.”
James Bylund, senior vice-president at Repligen, added: “We are thrilled to continue the collaboration with the Irish Government and the IDA that was initiated by the Artesyn team. This build-out is an important step in expanding our capacity and establishing dual manufacturing sites for key single-use consumable products used in manufacture of biological drugs.
“With its LEED Silver designation, the facility is closely aligned with our commitment to responsible growth and sustainability.”
Dr Jonathan Downey, managing director at the Waterford facility, said: “Having delivered beyond our commitment in 2019 to bring new jobs to the region through our development of high-end manufacturing capabilities, we are energised and excited about our integration with Repligen and this next phase of growth.
“In addition to our expansion of Artesyn products, and the transfer of manufacturing of certain of Repligen’s current products to our Irish operations, we expect to be utilising the Irish sites to advance additional research, development and innovation programs.”
Emmanuel Macron has reportedly spoken to the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, to ensure that the Israeli government is “properly investigating” allegations that the French president could have been targeted with Israeli-made spyware by Morocco’s security services.
In a phone call, Macron expressed concern that his phone and those of most of his cabinet could have been infected with Pegasus, hacking software developed by the Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, which enables operators of the tool to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones from infected devices.
NSO has said Macron was not a “target” of any of its customers, meaning the company denies he was selected for surveillance using Pegasus. The company says that the fact that a number appeared on the list was in no way indicative of whether that number was selected for surveillance using Pegasus.
The Pegasus project could not examine the mobile phones of the leaders and diplomats, and could therefore not confirm whether there had been any attempt to install malware on their phones.
The Macron-Bennett phone call reportedly took place on Thursday, but was first reported by Israel’s Channel 12 News on Saturday evening after the end of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.
The prime minister’s office has declined to comment on the phone call or the two leaders’ conversation. According to Channel 12, an unnamed source said Bennett had stressed that the alleged events occurred before he took office in May, and that a commission was examining whether rules on Israel’s export of cyberweapons such as Pegasus should be tightened.
The investigation has been based on forensic analysis of phones and analysis of a leaked database of 50,000 numbers, including that of Macron and those of heads of state and senior government, diplomatic and military officials, in 34 countries.
In multiple statements, NSO said the fact a number appeared on the leaked list was in no way indicative of whether it was selected for surveillance using Pegasus. “The list is not a list of Pegasus targets or potential targets,” the company said. “The numbers in the list are not related to NSO Group in any way.”
But the list is believed to provide insights into those identified as persons of interest by NSO’s clients. It includes people whose phones showed traces of NSO’s signature phone-hacking spyware, Pegasus, according to forensic analysis of their devices. The analysis was conducted by Amnesty International’s security lab, which discovered traces of Pegasus-related activity on 37 out of 67 phones that it analysed.
While the rest of the world grapples with the seismic consequences of the revelations, in Israel reaction has been muted. Meretz, a leftwing party long in opposition but now part of the new government coalition, has asked the defence ministry for “clarification” on the issue, but no party is seeking a freeze of export licences or an inquiry into NSO’s close links to the Israeli state under the tenure of the former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But as the mammoth impact of the disclosures has become clearer, the diplomatic pressure on Israel is mounting. On Thursday, the senior Israeli MP Ram Ben-Barak – a former deputy head of the Mossad spy agency – confirmed that the Israeli defence establishment had “appointed a review commission made up of a number of groups” to examine whether policy changes were needed regarding sensitive cyber exports.
US defence officials have also asked their Israeli counterparts for more details on the “disturbing” disclosures stemming from the Pegasus project, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Saturday.