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Good morning! Australia's Health Secretary, Brendan Murphy, yesterday poured cold water on ScoMo's vaccine hopes, revealing that the 20 million Pfizer doses scheduled to be delivered by the end of this year are "subject to ongoing reassessment with Pfizer".

Australia – one of the last countries to place an order and with no community coronavirus spread – will likely be near the bottom of Pfizer's pecking order.

But never fear, perhaps 2022 will be the year! Victoria yesterday decided to step up to the plate and allocate some cash to kickstart domestic mRNA vaccine production in Australia – but more on that in the Corona Wrap below.

Market Wrap

Retail rally

Daily % change

AUD/USD

77.5

0.3%

10Y Bond

1.68

-1.0%

ASX200

6,998

-0.3%

Brent (bbl)

65.0

-1.9%

Gold (oz)

1,795

0.9%

Iron ore (t)

181.0

-0.9%

Bitcoin

55,038

-3.3%

Note: Brent oil, gold bullion and iron ore prices are the second futures contract.

The ASX200 fell as much as 1.5% before rallying to finish down just 0.29%. In the US, the S&P500 ended two days of losses to close up a solid 0.93%.

Retail rally: Preliminary estimates of Australia's March retail turnover showed a strong 1.4% monthly increase and even larger 2.3% rise compared to March 2020. As we saw in yesterday's CBA spending intentions survey, rises were strongest in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (+6%) but weakest in food retailing (-1%). Essentially, the lack of community COVID-19 means people are electing to dine out more relative to this time last year.

Mainstreaming crypto: According to survey data from Charles Schwab, 51% of millennial and Gen Z investors (aged 18-37) in the UK traded cryptocurrencies, up from 44% in May 2020. Just 25% of the same group held shares.


Corona Wrap

Finally!

How mRNA vaccines work.
How mRNA vaccines work. Pfizer/FT

The Victorian government yesterday announced it will invest $A50 million to "kickstart" domestic manufacturing of mRNA vaccine technology in Australia, the first such facility in the southern hemisphere. However, it will take at least 12 months for any vaccines to be made in Australia.

Stepping back: mRNA is the future of biomedicine. The two best coronavirus vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, were developed within days using mRNA. According to a 2018 paper in Nature, the technology has also elicited "potent immunity against infectious disease targets in animal models of influenza virus, Zika virus, rabies virus and others", and "promising results" in cancer treatment.

Why it matters: mRNA vaccines are safe, can be 'tweaked' rapidly and are relatively low-cost to manufacture. Once Australia eventually receives its Pfizer vaccine doses from overseas, it won't be long before booster shots are required to deal with coronavirus variants – having domestic productive capacity means when that happens, we won't have to twiddle our thumbs at the back of the queue again. Australia will also be better placed to support its less wealthy neighbours such as Papua New Guinea with this and any future health crises.


The Wrap Up

  • Using new laws passed in December, the federal government officially cancelled both the memorandum of understanding and framework agreement signed between Victoria and China's National Development and Reform Commission. It also tore up separate agreements Victoria had with Iran and Syria.
  • The police officer who killed George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
  • Pfizer will ship the European Union an additional 100 million vaccine doses after the EU exercised an option as part of a purchase agreement signed in February.
  • Japan might receive an additional 50 million Pfizer doses by September, bringing Japan's supply of the Pfizer's vaccine to 195 million doses.
  • Want to be a foreign journalist in China? According to China's deputy ambassador in Canberra, it's easy: you just need to present "the true image of China". 🤣
  • A common interest? China's President Xi Jinping will attend a US-led virtual climate change summit on Thursday. It will be the first meeting between Xi and Biden since the latter became US President.
  • Speaking of climate change, ScoMo yesterday pledged $275.5 million for five hydrogen production hubs in regional Australia and $264 million to fund carbon capture storage projects.
  • It turns out Facebook email addresses can still be scraped and appended to previously leaked phone numbers, after the company closed the report "before routing to the appropriate team". Whoops.
  • Yesterday all six English Premier League teams involved in soccer's rebel breakaway 'Super League' formally withdrew.
  • Facebook's cryptocurrency Diem (formerly Libra) will launch a pilot later this year.

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