At present, all bets are off as far as vaccination projections in Australia are concerned. Ever since AstraZeneca vaccination was stopped for those under the age of 50, the federal government’s woefully underperformed targets were finally tossed aside. In a recent press conference, Morrison refused to commit to all Australians receiving even a first dose of a vaccine before Christmas.
Four disturbing new details emerged this past fortnight of how it got this bad.
The federal government took four months to make a deal with Pfizer
On 15 April, Dr Norman Swan revealed that Pfizer had asked the federal government last June what their supply needs were. “There was a meeting – and I’m not sure what happened at it – on 10 July,” said Dr Swan, “And a deal wasn’t done until the end of November. What happened in those four of five months when Britain was doing deals with Pfizer, America was doing deals with Pfizer, and we didn’t.”
With that delay, vaccine doses are only now trickling in to Australia, and Morrison is blaming supply-side issues for the glacial vaccination roll-out. Meanwhile, the delay in ordering increased the cost by approximately $350 million on a dose-by-dose basis.
The deal itself, for 20 million doses, was only enough to cover half the population, leaving us unduly reliant on a single vaccine, AstraZeneca, which could be manufactured here. The government has now gone back to Pfizer, increasing spending to $4 billion in what The Australian called “a visit to the late-night pharmacy.”
This has secured us another 20 million doses, but they will only be delivered between October and December. “We will have a substantial number of vaccines in the fourth quarter of this year,” Morrison told reporters this week.
The situation is so far off the public’s expectations that even Albanese has realised that people are fed up. Morrison “has just one job, to get this right,” but it has now become “a debacle,” said the opposition leader.
In part 2 tomorrow, we’ll see how after failing to take Pfizer up, the government was led by the hand by AstraZeneca and CSL in its roll-out strategy.
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Feature image shot in Bali by @earbiscuits, courtesy of Unsplash.