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Morning Briefing April 14: Calls to 'pause' jab as Medsafe mulls its usage in NZ

Overseas authorities call for a 'pause' on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as Medsafe meets over its usage in NZ, and 1 NEWS understands a ban on live animal exports is imminent. 

The Johnson & Johnson / Janssen vaccine. Source: Associated Press

Health authorities in the US are urgently calling for a pause in the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine (also known as the Janssen vaccine) after reports of blood clotting cases.

The Food and Drug Administration says the recommended pause is out of an “abundance of caution” given the adverse events appear to be extremely rare.

While there's no clear causal link between blood clots and the vaccine, Johnson & Johnson says it's also delaying its rollout in Europe.

Australia revealed this week it’s not buying the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it’s too similar to the AstraZeneca one. 

The moves come as New Zealand’s medical regulators begin their own approval process for the Johnson & Johnson jab.

RNZ reports Medsafe met yesterday about the vaccine, with their decision due for release tomorrow.

New Zealand is currently only using the Pfizer jab for its vaccine rollout, which has not been linked to blood clotting issues. 

Meanwhile, authorities continue to track any potential community spread of Covid-19 following two cases of the virus within the border workforce.

However, the testing station in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill, where several locations of interest have been found, is urging more people to come along for a swab after a sluggish start to testing

And an urgent study is underway into the long-term effects Covid-19 has had on some New Zealand sufferers.

The World Health Organization is warning that the post-viral condition known as Long Covid is becoming so widespread, it could soon create a global health burden.

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Live exports set for ban

1 NEWS understands the Government is set to ban the export of live animals, despite warnings it could harm a vital trade relationship with China.

The controversial practice has been facing increased scrutiny since a livestock export ship capsized last September, killing 41 crew, including two New Zealanders, and thousands of cattle.  

Exporter Dave Hayman has been sending live cattle overseas for 20 years and has been lobbying for those exports to continue. He says it fulfils a valuable role for the agriculture industry and “gives the animals the opportunity to live a full, productive life”.

But opponents say there are big question marks over the welfare of these animals during their journey by sea and once they arrive at their destination.

TVNZ’s Sunday has conducted a months-long investigation into the conditions endured by cattle at sea, which will screen this weekend. The programme understands the Government will move to ban live exports this week, but with a wind down period that could last two years.

Govt tackles terrorism

The Government is hailing what it’s calling significant global progress under the Christchurch Call to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.

A stocktake of the initiative released this morning shows more than 50 countries and international organisations have banded together with 10 tech companies to support the Call. Three crisis response protocols are also now operational, enabling rapid and coordinated reaction to online events between governments and companies.

The full report into the initiative can be downloaded at the Christchurch Call website.

It comes a day after the Government moved to strengthen counter-terrorism laws.

Proposed changes under the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill include clarifying the definition of a "terrorist act" and creating a new offence for anyone planning or preparing a terrorist act. International travel to carry out terrorist activities will also be a crime under the new bill.

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi says the bill is the first step in implementing one of the recommendations from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attack of 2019.  

National proposes new housing law

As concerns are raised about a “motel generation” of Kiwi kids being raised in emergency accommodation, National is today proposing a new law it says will get more houses built.

Judith Collins’ member’s bill would effectively put in place emergency powers similar to those used to speed up house building in Canterbury following the region’s earthquakes.

The new law would require all urban councils to immediately zone more land for housing. The bill will go into the ballot this week.

Meanwhile, Collins is also busy dismissing fresh gossip about her position as the National party leader.

She says recent talk of a leadership takeover by Simon Bridges and Christopher Luxon is “false”. 

'Clearly a lot to do' on climate

New Zealand's emissions increased by two per cent in the latest annual reporting of greenhouse gases, with the agriculture and energy sectors the biggest contributors.

The increase between 2018 and 2019 is said to be due mainly to the increase in manufacturing and construction industries, as well as public electricity and heat production.

The figure has spurred Climate Change Minister James Shaw to acknowledge "we clearly have a lot to do", however he says this most recent report doesn’t include the impact of some of the Government’s recent moves in the area. 

Other news of note this morning:

- The defence has begun its case in the murder trial for the former US police officer charged with killing George Floyd.

- New Zealand’s only intensive care unit for children has hit peak capacity, with staff working overtime and non-emergency surgeries for the country's youngest patients being delayed.

- RNZ reports disgruntled Ports of Auckland workers have walked off the job to cast a vote of no confidence in the company’s board and senior management. 

- Police are hoping a $100,000 reward will help find new information into the disappearance of a toddler who vanished from her Lake Wakatipu home nearly 29 years ago.

- The Ministry of Education won’t take responsibility for students forced to learn from home next term at one of Wellington's largest schools.

- Parliament is set to be upgraded, with plans in place for three new buildings that require "significant investment".

- Less than a week after Wellington Zoo euthanised its last two lions, the remaining pair at Auckland Zoo have also suffered the same fate

- And Black Caps captain Kane Williamson, White Ferns star Amelia Kerr and summer standout Devon Conway were the big winners at last night’s New Zealand Cricket Awards.

And finally...

Source: istock.com

The hospitality industry certainly hasn't had the easiest time of late, but Seven Sharp has found a wee café in New Plymouth doing a mighty trade.

It might be because of its menu, its friendly service, or the rock-bottom prices where the suggested donation for a meal is just $1. Or maybe it’s because it’s only open on Tuesdays - and all the money it makes, it gives away.

Reporter Carolyn Robinson booked a table at the café this week to check it all out.