Coronavirus LIVE updates: Victoria aims to continue doughnut days, police watch for bad behaviour on re-opened roads; Queensland, NSW chase border openings; Australians adjust to Jobseeker cut

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No happy ever after for Melbourne as city's JobSeeker fairytale ends

The federal government’s JobKeeper scheme and boosts to other welfare payments wiped out much of Melbourne's pre-pandemic poverty but there are warnings that the reprieve could be temporary if supports are wound back further.

State government payments and public health measures such as the closure of poker machine venues also helped to temporarily lift some of the city’s most deprived areas out of poverty during the pandemic, researchers from RMIT and the Victorian Council of Social Service say, transforming for a time the socioeconomic map of metropolitan Melbourne.

Melbourne’s deserted CBD during the lockdown.Credit:Wayne Taylor

The researchers call it a "social policy fairytale" but warn it is unlikely to have a happy ending, with the first of the reductions in the coronavirus supplements in late September ushering in a comeback for poverty in the city, although it still remained below pre-pandemic levels.

Led by economics professor David Hayward, the researchers mapped poverty among welfare recipients across greater Melbourne before and after JobKeeper, boosted JobSeeker and other supplementary payments began pumping an additional $1.3 billion a month into the city in March.

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Pfizer CEO pockets $7.7m after offloading shares

Pfizer chief executive officer Albert Bourla pocketed about $US5.6 million ($7.7 million) after selling stock, the latest executive to reap the rewards of share transactions amid a vaccine-fuelled rally for some pharmaceutical companies.

Bourla disposed of more than 130,000 shares on Monday (US time), according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Sally Susman, executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer at Pfizer, also offloaded about $US1.8 million in stock.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla offloaded shares a day after a report on results from Pfizer’s experimental vaccine with partner BioNTechCredit:AP

Pfizer's shares soared that day after a report on results from its experimental vaccine with partner BioNTech. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious-disease specialist described the findings as "extraordinary" and regulators on both sides of the Atlantic could clear the vaccine for emergency use imminently.

Both executives' sales were done under prearranged 10b5-1 trading plans, which let people schedule sales in advance at certain times or prices, absolving themselves from accusations of insider trading. Public-company executives typically receive a considerable share of their compensation in the form of stock, and the vast majority periodically sell part of their holdings.


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Fauci says COVID vaccinations will likely start taking place around Christmas holidays

Note from Roy: I'm reposting this from last night's blog for those early risers who may have missed it.

America's top infectious diseases expert says it is very likely that COVID-19 vaccinations will start taking place around the Christmas holidays.

Anthony Fauci said the Pfizer vaccine had about a 95 per cent efficacy rate, which would help overcome resistance some in the United States had towards getting vaccinated.

"I think those types of numbers, with no concerning safety signal, hopefully will get many many more people than you would have predicted get vaccinated," Dr Fauci said in an interview with ABC's 730.

Dr Anthony Fauci.Credit:Bloomberg

Pfizer is one of the first pharmaceutical companies to carry out a successful large-scale clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine and is expected to seek US emergency use authorisation later this month.

Dr Fauci declined to comment on US President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, but said the immediate priorities of the new COVID taskforce under President-elect Joe Biden should be emphasising basic infection control measures such as universal mask-wearing, social distancing, avoiding crowds and indoor congregations, and hand washing.

He praised Australia's achievement in driving down case numbers through extended lockdowns but said this approach should be "almost the last resort".

"We know there's a considerable amount of COVID-19 fatigue globally and certainly in the United States. I don't think that that (lockdown) would be well received," Dr Fauci said.

"I don't think you need to lock down, I think people have a misperception that when you say 'wear masks', 'avoid crowds', 'keep your distance' it means locking down. It doesn't. You can keep businesses open so long as you implement certain fundamental public health practices."

Dr Fauci admitted the coronavirus pandemic had been a stressful time for him, adding some of the extreme criticism he has attracted for his efforts was "noise" to which he gave little attention.

"When you have public figures like [former White House chief strategist Steve] Bannon calling for your beheading, that's really kind of unusual, that's not the kind of thing you think about when you're going through medical school to become a physician."

"But I've gotten through it by really focusing like a laser beam on exactly what my goal is. I'm a scientist, and I'm a physician, and my goal is to help develop vaccines, and I think we've been quite successful in that."

He said his other priorities were improving treatments of the virus and to ensure messaging around public health measures was accepted by the American public.

Victoria Police target bad driving behaviour as city/country access resumes

This weekend will be the first when Melburnians can travel around the state without distance restrictions since the end of lockdown and Victoria Police is getting ready to keep an eye on them.

The police will run Operation Compass state-wide for next three weekends starting this Friday to try and influence bad driver behaviour.

Leading Senior Constable Paul Gosling at a vehicle checkpoint at Upper Ferntree Gully.Credit:Paul Jeffers

In a statement the police warned those attending newly opened restaurants, pubs and wineries that there would be a push on breath-testing for alcohol and drug tests.

"There will be an increased police presence at popular holiday destinations, with a particular emphasis on areas such as Ballarat, Geelong, the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas, the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, The Grampians, Yarra Valley, Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and Macedon," he said.

"This is the first real opportunity that Melburnians have had in some time to get out and enjoy what Victoria has to offer," said road policing command acting assistant commissioner John Fitzpatrick.

"While it is fantastic to see people engaging in these recreational activities, we need people to go back to basics and arrive to their destination safely. This means buckling up, slowing down, and not driving while impaired."

Good morning all

G'day everyone! It's Roy Ward here and I'll be on the keys for this morning's COVID-19 live blog. Thanks for joining us.

We have plenty of stories to come today as Australia continues to move towards a COVID-normal life and we look over the growing winter waves in the United States and parts of Europe.

As always, please don't hesitate to leave a comment on the blog or shoot me a tweet at @rpjward on Twitter.

Enjoy the day to come.

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