MONIQUE WRIGHT, HOST: Australians might soon need a third COVID shot to be considered fully vaccinated. That's after lab results suggested that it may help protect us from Omicron. The government has accelerated the booster program due to concerns around the new variant. A third dose is now recommended for anyone aged 18 and over who had their second jab five months ago or more. Now, it means more than 4 million Australians will be eligible for a booster by the end of the year. For their take, we're joined now by Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, who is in hotel quarantine in the United States. He was sick of his jammies, so he got suited up for us and Labor MP, Joel Fitzgibbon. Good morning to you both. Barnaby you tested positive to COVID last week, you're looking pretty good. How are you feeling today?
BARNABY JOYCE, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'm feeling good. I'm feeling great. I wish I could get out, but they tell me that I haven't got delta and I haven't got the original version of COVID. They haven't determined what I've got, probably Omicron. In America, they don't really care so much what strain you've got, it's whether you've got it or not, but England wants to know what strain I've got because of the people I was speaking to over there. And what they can tell me is I have a high virus load, which is very comforting. But if you ask how I feel, I feel fine.
WRIGHT: I think you did feel a bit sick last week, which is why you got the test. So, how many days do you think you've been feeling well?
JOYCE: That's correct. Last few days. But when they test you, they say no, you've still got it. And so, I think this is, if there's something Australians can take out of it, it is a lot of the people walking around who have COVID will feel and look like me. Hopefully not look like me, that could get scary, but they'll feel like me. They will be healthy, and you'll be walking past them and they'll look fine and you'll feel fine, and if you haven't had your two doses and now your booster shot, well, you might get sick. I was double-vaxed, and I got it. So, that's a pretty good call. But I think in the end, it's going to be endemic, it will get out and people are going to get it. And so, the better protection you've got, the safer you are. Now, I suppose, now that I've got it, it's the marrow of my bones that is producing the capacity, the antibodies to deal with it. There you go.
WRIGHT: I mean, that is happy days. Look, if ever we need a reminder to get that third dose, which is now being recommended, it's now and seeing you and perhaps you're as well as you are because you've had two doses so far. However, you said fully vax there, Joel, there is some suggestions now that to be counted as fully vaxed, you are going to need that third dose. What do you think of that?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: First of all, Monique, I can't see Barnaby, but I'm sure he is looking good. But I wish him the best. And I hope the New South Wales Premier let's him back into the state in the not-too-distant future to be with his family. Yes, of course, the third jab will be very important. And I'm glad the experts have brought forward the gap between or narrowed the gap between the second dose and the booster. But you know, in my case, and it's not a criticism, you know, I'll wait until February before I'm able to get that booster. So, we should be encouraging everyone who can do so to do so as quickly as they can to make room for those of us who will come out of the queue in the not-too-distant future.
WRIGHT: Okay, Joel, sorry – Barnaby, do you think that we need to change the definition of fully-vaxed? I mean, Israel has done that. So, you have had to have the three doses.
JOYCE: I think what you'd be looking at, Monique, is what gives you the greatest efficacy of not catching COVID and not so much catching it, but catching it and then delivering it onto other people who are vulnerable and have comorbidities. Now, if it becomes the issue that greater efficacy is being double-jabbed and a booster, then I suppose that's what the medical authorities will say. But what I want is irrelevant, really. I'm stuck here in Washington. But what I'd like is that people take it upon themselves, the government's involvement is as little as possible, people's personal responsibilities as high as possible. And we go on living normally, we can't just keep ourselves locked up here.
WRIGHT: Even if you can do that in a suit. However, Barnaby, there's going to be a lot of pressure on the government. Mucked up the beginning of the rollout, you know, some people say that that's ancient history, that's fine. But now there were a lot of doses that now need to be given. Everyone needs this third dose. Plus, we're going to have kids between the age of 5 and 11. I mean, how confident are you that your government's not going to stuff this up?
JOYCE: Well, the calls I made just before this show told me that we have Moderna rolling out. They're looking, I think, 10 million doses that they have access to this year. So, that would suggest to me that we have an abundance of doses available if the information I have received is correct, noting that I'm in Washington, and that would say that we're across our brief as you would expect, and we'll just have to... this process is going to continue on, Monique, it's not going to, everybody thinks that we'll get to a point and then the day will close, we won't have to worry about COVID anymore. You're going to live with it. And life's going to have to move on with it, and in the end, people will be just walking around the streets and if you have it or you don't have it will be up to you. What will matter is if you haven't got the proper vaccination, you're going to be a lot more vulnerable than if you do. So, it's personal responsibilities. It's like putting on your trousers and your shoes. Get yourself vaccinated and you do it and keep the government away from you as much as possible.
WRIGHT: Yep. But we need that rollout to happen very smoothly. Barnaby, am I seeing the microwave door open there? Have you propped your phone up inside the microwave? Awesome! Barnaby Joyce in a microwave oven. That's what he thinks of us.
JOYCE: That's right, that's where I'm going after. Straight into the microwave.
FITZGIBBON: Nothing ever surprises me, Monique, nothing ever surprises me about Barnaby Joyce.
JOYCE: You can either talk to me in Danglemah or talk to me in the microwave. Now, I've had enough of you people at channel 7, so, goodbye.
WRIGHT: Who would think about that? Bye, Barnaby, hope you get home to Christmas.
JOYCE: So do I.
WRIGHT: What he does for [inaudible]. Thank you, Barnaby, thank you, Joel, so much. Appreciate it.
FITZGIBBON: See you, Merry Christmas.