The New York Times has taken aim at Australia’s low vaccination rates by using the country’s bungled vaccine rollout as an example of how not to manage Covid-19.
In an episode of the publication’s podcast ‘The Daily’, science journalist Carl Zimmer weighed in on why he thought Australia has swung from one extreme to the other.
Once the envy of the world boasting a country almost coronavirus-free, Australia’s glacial vaccine rollout has meant frustrated residents have become all too familiar with the incessant cycle of lockdowns and border closures.
The New York Times has taken aim at Australia’s low vaccination rates by using the country’s bungled vaccine rollout as an example of how not to manage Covid-19
In an episode of ‘The Daily’, science journalist Carl Zimmer weighed in on why he thought Australia has swung from one extreme to the other
Mr Zimmer said the highly contagious Indian Delta strain of the virus was ‘a recipe for disaster among countries with low vaccination rates’.
The journalist said the lethal combination of an infectious strain and a slow rollout was playing out in countries like Bangladesh, Russia, Malaysia and Australia.
Mr Zimmer said it was interesting that Australia was a relatively wealthy country but lacked a great vaccine supply.
He put it down to the government believing lockdown strategies like contact tracing, testing and strict limits on travel would continue to keep the virus at bay.
‘They had incredibly low rates, life was normal in Australia. So they thought, “We can take our time with vaccination because we’ve got this big wall keeping the virus out,” but then the virus came over the wall and they didn’t have their vaccines ready.’
Just six per cent of the population have been double-jabbed, compared to 46 per cent in the United States and 47 per cent in the United Kingdom.
Once the envy of the world boasting a country almost coronavirus free, Australia’s glacial vaccine rollout has meant an incessant cycle of lockdowns and border closures
More than 8.4million vaccine doses have been administered since the rollout began in February, but the vaccination rate still sits at a low 6 per cent
Israel has vaccinated almost 60 per cent of its population followed by Chile with almost 55 per cent.
Australia is also trailing behind Latvia, Turkey, Mexico and Colombia and even New Zealand, which only uses the Pfizer jab.
More than 8.4million vaccine doses have been administered since the rollout began in February, but the vaccination rate still sits at a low six per cent.
International travel has been off limits since March last year when Australia closed its borders, which aren’t expected to reopen before mid-to-late 2022.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced a raft of changes to the rollout last week, as two-thirds of the country went into lockdown as states battled new outbreaks.
He outlined a a four-phase transition towards creating a new Covid-normal and finally ending the cycle of lockdowns and border closures.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced a raft of changes to the rollout last week, as two-thirds of the country went into lockdown as states battled new outbreaks
He outlined a a four-phase transition towards creating a new Covid-normal and finally ending the cycle of lockdowns and border closures
The first phase involves halving the number of arrivals into the country to 3,035 a week until August 31 to help keep out the highly contagious Delta strain, while the final stage sees all restrictions lifted except for testing of unvaccinated arrivals.
The pace of the plan – which will eventually let the country manage Covid like flu – depends on the efficiency of the ‘ramped up’ vaccine rollout.
The ‘new deal’ provides some light at the end of the tunnel, with lockdowns to be eliminated once a certain percentage of Aussies have been double-jabbed.
The country’s rollout has been plagued with supply issues and health advice which prevented millions from getting the AstraZeneca shot due to fears of very rare blood clots which have only killed two people across the nation.
The deaths came after 3.8million had taken the AstraZeneca vaccine, meaning a death rate of one per 1.9million.
Last week, Scott Morrison announced under 60s could opt for the AstraZeneca shot, with many young people across the nation rushing to roll up their sleeves.
SCOTT MORRISON’S FOUR PHASES TO OPEN UP AUSTRALIA
1. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week until August 31; lockdowns and state border closures as a last resort; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
2. Post vaccination phase (when an as-yet unannounced percentage of Aussies are jabbed, expected early next year)
No lockdowns or state borders except for ‘extreme circumstances’; caps for unvaccinated arrivals doubled to 6,070; home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
3. Consolidation phase (date not announced)
Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; vaccinated people exempted from domestic restrictions; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
4. Final phase (date not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival
However, top doctors have now urged young Australians to stick to the Pfizer vaccine after the Australian Medical Association said they were not consulted before the Prime Minister announced the policy change.
The Morrison government then backflipped on its guidelines, with the AMA advising patients 59 and under to stick to immunisation experts’ advice.
Meanwhile, residents in states across the country have been gridlocked in testing queues to get vaccinated, with thousands in Sydney facing a three-hour wait.
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at Camperdown in Sydney’s inner west has seen hundreds of people turn up to its vaccination centre during he most-recent lockdown.
Despite turning up on time for appointments, crowds were left waiting in lines which snaked around the building, many leaving in frustration.
It comes as New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday the state’s two-week lockdown would be extended by another seven days until July 16.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Monday the state’s two-week lockdown would be extended another 7 days until July 16
The harsh measures, originally brought in for a week on June 26, were enacted to confine the highly infectious Indian Delta strain to the epicentre in Sydney’s east
There will be no relaxation of restrictions as planned on Friday, with shops and restaurants kept shut and schools closed except for children of essential workers.
The harsh measures, originally brought in for a week on June 26, were enacted to confine the highly infectious Indian Delta strain to the epicentre in Sydney’s east.
The state recorded 18 new locally-acquired infections on Tuesday bringing the city’s Bondi cluster to 225 cases – with over a hundred more that are yet to be linked.
In another worrying statistic which prompted Ms Berejiklian to make her decision, 122 new cases were found to have been out in the community while infectious within the last ten days.
As part of the extended lockdown, face masks will remain mandatory, schools will be shut with at-home-learning replacing face-to-face classes and there are still only four lawful reasons to leave home.