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AFLW player’s SA vax challenge kicks on

Anti-vaccination protesters have applauded AFLW player Deni Varnhagen as she arrived at South Australia’s Supreme Court for her ongoing challenge to the state’s COVID-19 rules.

The court was told on Friday that police commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens will not give evidence until next week as he is too unwell to attend.

Ms Varnhagen, who plays for the Adelaide Crows, also works as a casual registered nurse but has lost shifts since refusing a COVID vaccination and is challenging the state’s mandate that health workers be inoculated.

Justice Judy Hughes continued hearing evidence from vaccine scientist Nicholai Petrovsky on Friday.

Current vaccines do not help reduce transmission of COVID-19 and a program of testing and physical isolation would be more effective, Prof Petrovsky said.

It is anticipated his evidence will be followed by a state government virologist.

Ms Varnhagen’s legal team has sought to question senior bureaucrats who were involved with implementing the vaccine mandate as part of the SA Emergency Management Act.

Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier needed a police escort as she was heckled outside court on Thursday, when she was excused from taking the witness stand.

Barrister Simon Owen QC read a statement to the court on behalf of Ms Varnhagen and her co-litigants, condemning the treatment of the professor.

A smaller crowd gathered outside court to show their support on Friday.

Ms Varnhagen, 29, has been forced to work as a labourer after losing her regular work, the court has been told.

The Crows shifted the midfielder to the inactive list after she refused to be vaccinated.

Ms Varnhagen has been joined in the matter by several others.

The hearing continues.

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