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Morning mail: GPs grapple with vaccine shortfalls, Pfizer’s $34bn revenue, giant Joe Biden 

Good morning! AstraZeneca supply issues continue to frustrate Australian doctors and, well, most Australians, too. We’ve also got news on some of the plans for the Coalition’s budget.

GPs in Australia are grappling with major vaccine supply shortfalls and are being refused more AstraZeneca doses, despite 1m a week now being manufactured onshore. Guardian Australia spoke with doctors across the country to find out whether early supply issues had eased, but the overwhelming response was that nothing had changed. In many cases, GPs had made direct requests to the federal government for increases to their allotted supply but were rejected. It comes as a survey revealed almost two-thirds of Australians believe the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is not going well. ANU research found that more than half of respondents would be willing to take a “safe and effective” vaccine but eight in 10 are concerned about side-effects.

In vaccine news abroad, Pfizer is forecasting US$26bn (A$34bn) in revenue from its Covid vaccine this year. A German “jab to freedom” bill that would lift social-distancing rules, testing requirements and curfews for people who have been fully vaccinated, has been criticised for discriminating against young people still months from getting their first dose. Singapore has announced tighter restrictions on social gatherings and stricter border measures after recording locally acquired cases of variants.

The immigration minister, Alex Hawke, will hold an urgent roundtable with Indian-Australian community leaders today as the government seeks to quell anger about its widely condemned India travel ban. There are also calls to begin repatriation flights earlier than 15 May once the infection rate at the national quarantine facility at Howard Springs falls below 2%.

Australia

Farkhondeh Akbari: ‘Every few weeks we mourn the death of a relative in Afghanistan.’ Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Many Afghans in Australia are deeply worried about the withdrawal of foreign forces in the region and fear that Australia’s restrictive immigration policies will cut off any chance of family or friends joining them if they are forced to flee.

The federal government will establish a $600m national recovery and resilience agency and create a climate service to help manage the risk of natural disasters. The agency will fund projects such as bushfire- and cyclone-proofing houses, building levees for flood control, and improving the resilience of telecommunications and essential supplies.

The head of the national disability insurance scheme has been grilled about the government’s contentious independent assessments trial after participants were asked “insulting” questions, including about their sex life.

The world

Isabel Díaz Ayuso casts her vote
Isabel Díaz Ayuso casts her vote at College Immaculate-Marillac during the Madrid regional elections. Photograph: Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Spain’s conservative People’s party is on course to retain control of the Madrid region in a snap election dominated by the pandemic after a bitter, fractious and polarised campaign.

Far-right crimes in Germany have hit record levels, with almost 24,000 reported to police last year. Crimes ranged from displaying Nazi symbols and antisemitic remarks to physical attacks and murder, and have targeted mainly immigrants, refugees and black Germans.

The French government could cut off the electricity supply to Jersey in an escalating row over post-Brexit fishing rights. The French minister for maritime affairs, Annick Girardin, said she was “revolted” by the UK government’s behaviour over its waters and France was ready to retaliate.

The carbon offsetting market used by major airlines to claims carbon-neutral flying faces a significant credibility problem, with experts warning that the credits generated appear to be based on a flawed system.

Recommended reads

Sometimes the reasons we turn away from something – too difficult, too grim, too painful – are the very reasons we need to stay rooted to the spot and watch, writes Lucy Clark. “From the opening seconds of the SBS three-part documentary series See What You Made Me Do, which premieres tonight, you know it’s going to be hard going. Emergency call recordings open the audio track, and a man speaks: ‘I’ve killed my partn … my ex-partner.’ It’s a horrifying hook but an effective one that drags you into the series, which is based on Jess Hill’s 2019 book of the same name. Hill is the host, taking us on the journalistic journey she mapped out in her book.’”

As people become more conscious of reducing waste, Australia’s professional menders are welcoming a new wave of customers. For the last seven years Anna Timou has been working up to 70 hours a week in her Fitzroy workshop, On the Mend, repairing everything from baby carriers to bondage wear. “It used to be more businessmen, wealthier ladies, a lot of resoling shoes, but the mentality behind fixing things has changed … and the language has changed – they’re younger people and they don’t want things to go to landfill, they say that.”

As India continues to be ravaged by Covid, Ranjana Srivastava says Australia’s Indian doctors are feeling the weight of powerlessness from afar. “Collectively, we are experiencing a penetrating, raw grief like we have never known. From the safety of closed borders, treating a non-Covid population, we watch the daily struggles of our relatives and ask ourselves, ‘Had I been there, could I have made a difference?’ Realists may respond not really, at least not in the absence of resources, but making a difference isn’t just about saving lives; it is about holding hands, wiping tears and well, just being there.”

Listen

With India’s Covid-19 case numbers rising, the Morrison government has announced tough fines or jail time for Australians returning home from India – a move that has provoked widespread backlash. In today’s Full Story, Karishma Luthria speaks to people stranded in India, including Australian Subra Somayajula, about the unfolding crisis on the ground, and the impact of this policy.

Full Story

Shock, fear and isolation as Australia criminalises those returning from India

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.

Sport

Australia’s IPL cricketers have been left in limbo after the tournament was suspended in response to India’s Covid crisis. More than 30 players, coaches and staff in India are unable to fly home after the Australian government imposed a travel ban and threatened citizens who attempt to return with a hefty fine or even jail.

The dual-code rugby star Timana Tahu suffered a serious concussion 20 years ago and is now at the forefront of research into tackling techniques. “There’s no such thing as a safer tackle. All we can do is try to lower the risk,” he says.

Media roundup

The Australian has the details of a secret report that reveals that the Covid outbreak that triggered Melbourne’s third lockdown first escaped into a corridor during the lengthy swabbing of an unmasked woman in an open doorway. Queenslanders may lose vital services as council debts pile up, according to the Courier-Mail, with community pools, libraries and waste services facing cuts as councils struggle with reduced federal assistance grants and Covid. The NSW transport minister, Andrew Constance, has proposed subsidising car parks, waiving stamp duty and giving access to transit lanes for drivers of electric cars before the government imposes any distance-based tax on the vehicles, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Coming up

The deputy PM, Michael McCormack, will give a pre-budget speech.

A Murray-Darling parliamentary inquiry public hearing will take place in in Deniliquin, NSW.

And if you’ve read this far …

US president Joe Biden and his wife Jill visit Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter
US president Joe Biden and his wife Jill visit Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. Photograph: The Carter Centre

Why do the Carter’s look so tiny in this picture? Turns out you don’t need special gear to create this optical trickery. If you have an iPhone 11 or 12 you too can loom large over a former US president.

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