News Digest: No pension rise, PM secures vaccine and unlikely star of US election race

Aug 19, 2020
The prime minister has struck a deal with British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Source: Getty.

Covid-19 is dominating the headlines again today, with particular focus on the news that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has secured 25 million doses of “one of the world’s most promising” Covid-19 vaccine candidates.

If the vaccine – which is currently being developed by Oxford University researchers – proves successful, the deal would secure free and “early access for every Australian”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told news.com.au on Tuesday. Australians deemed most vulnerable, including the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions like asthma, pregnant women and frontline workers, would likely be offered a vaccine first.

It comes as Victoria recorded 216 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday morning, as well as a further 12 deaths. Today’s daily case number is the state’s lowest in 37 days and experts believe this is an indication that  Stage 4 restrictions are now driving numbers down.

The economic impacts of the pandemic are also becoming more apparent, as it was confirmed on Tuesday that the Age Pension will not increase in line with indexation next month. The payment is usually indexed twice a year however, due to a drop in the consumer price index, the scheduled rise will not take place, and pensioners will have to wait until February next year to find out if indexation will go ahead in March 2021.

Nathan Williamson, from the Department of Social Services, confirmed the news to a senate inquiry: “Based on the calculation for indexation, if it’s negative we don’t reduce the pension but we also don’t increase it.”

Meanwhile in the United States, an unexpected star has emerged in the lead up to November’s presidential election. Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris may have made waves when her nomination was announced last week, but it’s her husband Doug Emhoff that has captured the world’s attention, reports The Guardian.

Emhoff, an entertainment lawyer, has found himself at the centre of a social media storm in recent days, with users branding him their “hot Jewish dad crush” and obsessing over his Twitter biography, in which he describes himself as “Kamala’s hubby”. However The Guardian’s Poppy Noor questioned the so-called ‘feminist’ fawning over Emhoff, pointing out that the partners of past – and especially potential – vice-presidents rarely attract this much attention.

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