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World Sports: South Africa scrap draw in first test

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World Sports: South Africa scrap draw in first test | Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World sports news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

South Africa forces draw in first test with Australia
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: South Africa were forced to scrap their way through an uncomfortable final day of the first test against a Michael Clarke-inspired Australia today to save a match they had once looked like winning.

Australia captain Clarke, who made a brilliant unbeaten 259, declared on 565 for five midway through the morning session of the final day with a first innings lead of 115 but his bowlers were unable to make the inroads they needed to force a result.

Jacques Rudolph was adjudged lbw to spinner Nathan Lyon to give the hosts a late glimmer of hope but AB de Villiers (29) and Vernon Philander (one) ushered the tourists to safety at the close of play on 166-5.

The Australians may have come up short but they will take a great deal of confidence from their performance against the number one test side in the world into the last two matches of the series in Adelaide and Perth.

“Our attitude was spot on today with the ball,” said Clarke, who was named Man of the Match. “We were quite aggressive with our approach. I think we bowled a lot better today and we seemed to get better through this test match.

“So there are a lot of positives come of this test. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a win, but we can certainly use the momentum that we take from this game to Adelaide.”

Clarke, who resumed on 218 with his team on 487-4, again sparkled with the bat in the morning sunshine, adding 41 runs to his personal tally and taking the record for the highest individual score at the Gabba.

To have any chance of the win was a remarkable turnaround for Australia, who were reeling at 40-3 when Clarke took the crease on Sunday afternoon.

“All in all, I think for me a draw was an even reflection on how the surface played,” said South Africa captain Graeme Smith, who rued the day lost to rain when South Africa were in control.

“I felt we were ahead of the game going into day four, we just never quite backed up well enough. Michael and (Ed) Cowan played really well, took the game to us, and we didn’t quite respond in the way I’ve got use to our guys responding.”

Having declared, James Pattinson, the pick of Australia’s bowlers, gave them an early breakthrough by having opener Alviro Petersen caught behind by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade for five to leave South Africa on 6-1.

Wasted referrals
The 22-year-old seamer also bowled Hashim Amla for seven before lunch but the world’s number one batsman was brought back to the crease for a no ball, the fourth wicket to be saved by the same infraction in the match.

The second wicket also came off Pattinson, who had a fiery exchange with Smith (23) before tempting the South African captain into an outside edge that Rob Quiney claimed well at gully.

Australia fruitlessly used both of their referrals as they ramped up the pressure on the South Africans and just when Amla and Jacques Kallis looked to be getting on top of the bowlers, they were separated.

Amla aimed a loose shot at a Peter Siddle delivery he could have left and the ball went straight to Mike Hussey at short cover.

Jacques Kallis, who backed up his first innings 147 with a 49, appeared on course to guide South Africa to safety but fell to spinner Lyon with Clarke taking an excellent low catch in the slips.

By then, however, Australia’s chance of a win was all but gone.

Clarke, 31, had shared a partnership of 228 with Hussey, who reached his 17th test century in a quickfire 128 balls with a rushed single, before being dismissed on the next delivery he faced.

Morne Morkel claimed the wicket, his third, with substitute fielder Faf du Plessis taking a fine catch at full stretch at short cover.

Clarke was not going to be outshone, though, and he crashed a Dale Steyn delivery back over the bowler’s head to bring up his 250 with his 28th four.

His third double century of the year, which came from 398 deliveries in 582 minutes, eclipsed the 235 England’s Alastair Cook scored at the Gabba in the opening test of the Ashes series two years ago.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 vaccine CEOs say 3rd dose may be needed along with annual jabs

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Covid-19 vaccine CEOs say 3rd dose may be needed along with annual jabs | Thaiger
Stock photo of Pfizer vaccine via Flickr

The CEO for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines says it is likely that people will need a 3rd dose of the vaccine and to receive it annually. Albert Bourla, told CNBC, that the booster, or 3rd dose, will be needed less than a year after being fully vaccinated.

“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a 3rd dose, somewhere between 6 and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed. And again, the variants will play a key role. It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus.”

Bourla’s comment echoes that of Johnson & Johnson’s CEO when he stated in February, that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually, just like seasonal flu shots. Both statements reflect the fact that since the vaccine is new, and testing periods are shorter than most vaccines in the past, researchers are still unclear about how long the vaccine will protect against the virus.

Pfizer says that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 91% effective at protecting against the coronavirus and more than 95% effective against severe diseases up to 6 months after the 2nd dose. Moderna’s vaccine, which uses technology similar to Pfizer’s, was also shown to be highly effective at 6 months.

Just yesterday, the Biden administration’s Covid response chief science officer, David Kessler, noted that new Covid variants could “challenge” the effectiveness of the shots.

“We don’t know everything at this moment. We are studying the durability of the antibody response. It seems strong but there is some waning of that and no doubt the variants challenge … they make these vaccines work harder. So I think for planning purposes, planning purposes only, I think we should expect that we may have to boost.”

Late last month, the National Institute of Health started testing a new Covid vaccine from Moderna in addition to the one it already has, designed to protect against a problematic variant first found in South Africa. The variant is similar to that of the UK one that has recently made landfall in Thailand.

Recent findings, by The Lancet, however, have stated that the UK variant, known as B117, has a higher reproductive rate than other strains, and it’s more transmissible. However, it refuted earlier reports that the strain is more severe. Meanwhile, Thailand’s health minister is confirming his commitment to making AstraZeneca the nation’s chosen vaccine.

SOURCE: CNBC

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Economy

China grows 18.3%, the only major economy to grow in 2020

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China grows 18.3%, the only major economy to grow in 2020 | Thaiger
PHOTO: China - the second largest economy, and only major economy to grow last year.

China’s economy set a record for growth in Q1, 2021, marking an 18.3% jump in year-on-year figures, the biggest quarterly growth in almost 30 years. China only started publishing growth statistics in 1992, and this drastic increase is the fastest growth recorded since then.

The figures, however impressive, are mainly due to what is called a “low base effect” where the change from a low starting point translates into big percentage statistics. Because of the devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Q1 2020 figures were dismal, allowing the big gain over the last year.

Quarter to quarter, the last 3 months saw only a 0.6% growth, but in the last quarter of 2020 China recorded an economic boom of 6.5% according to the Chinese government. Still, the figures are admirable, as China was the only major economy in the world to achieve growth in 2020. Most of the planet struggled to contain global Covid-19 outbreaks, crippling economies across the globe. But China, now the second-largest economy in the world, managed a 2.3% overall expansion. Even Chinese officials called the impressive statistics “better than we had expected.”

China has been growing in terms of imports and exports as well, with exports expanding nearly 31% and imports up 38% by price over last years.

SOURCE: CNN

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Denmark becomes first country in Europe to ditch AstraZeneca vaccine

Maya Taylor

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Denmark becomes first country in Europe to ditch AstraZeneca vaccine | Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

Denmark has announced that it is abandoning the AstraZeneca vaccine, the first European country to do so, amid concerns about very rare but serious blood clots. The rollout of the vaccine has run into problems in several countries, with its use either temporarily suspended or restricted to older age groups.

When concerns first arose over the vaccine’s rare side-effects, Denmark was the first country in Europe to suspend its use. In Thailand, use of the vaccine was suspended last month, before officials judged it safe to proceed, with Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul going on to confirm it would become the Kingdom’s primary Covid-19 vaccine.

Both the European drugs regulator and the World Health Organisation are standing by the jab, saying the benefits outweigh the risks. However, health officials in Denmark have now decided to ditch it for good.

“Denmark’s vaccination campaign will go ahead without the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Denmark has reported 2 cases of thrombosis (blood clotting) linked to administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine, one of which proved fatal. The blood clot incidents arose after 140,000 people had received the jab. The Bangkok Post reports that 8% of Denmark’s 5.8 million inhabitants have been fully vaccinated and 17% have received their first dose.

The country plans to continue its rollout using the Modern and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Officials say they are confident that the availability of other jabs, coupled with the fact that Covid-19 is relatively under control in Denmark, means the country’s mass inoculation can continue without issue.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca has released a statement acknowledging the decision taken by Danish health authorities.

“We recognise and respect the decision taken by the Danish Health Authority. Implementation and rollout of the vaccine programme is a matter for each country to decide, based on local conditions. We will continue to collaborate with the regulators and local authorities to provide all available data to inform their decisions.”

SOURCE: Euro News | Bangkok Post

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