End of December more realistic target for all Australians to get Covid vaccine, AMA says | Australia news

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Australia’s peak doctors body has acknowledged the government is unlikely to achieve its target of vaccinating all Australians by October, suggesting some will have to wait until the end of the year.

While the government continues to insist the rollout is on track despite repeatedly missing its own targets, the Australian Medical Association president, Omar Khorshid, told the Guardian that “if you look at the maths” the government’s October target was “very ambitious”, even if this was relaxed to only include first doses for the final phase group.

Khorshid said a more realistic target to vaccinate all Australians would be by the end of December.

On Wednesday, about 106,000 of the 1.4 million doses set aside for phase 1A of Australia’s Covid-19 vaccination program had been administered, since the first Pfizer jabs arrived in mid-February and were first injected on 21 February.

That’s well short of what would be needed to meet the goal the government had first set of having four million Australians vaccinated by the end of March, with about 80,000 vaccines to be administered per week by late February. The delays have led to estimates that as many as 200,000 doses would have to be delivered each day if all Australians were to be vaccinated by the end of October.

Korshid said the main factor behind the rollout’s delay was, and will continue to be, a shortage of vaccine supply.

“Capacity will not be the limiting factor, supply of the vaccine will be … we need to find more,” he said.

Khorshid also said there was “less of a hurry” for vaccines in Australia as the population remains relatively safe from Covid-19 compared with the UK and the US. The main disadvantage of a slower rollout, he said, would be Australia’s international borders remaining closed for longer than they otherwise would.

Speaking in mid-February, after the first arrival of imported doses, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, and health minister, Greg Hunt, provided a slightly less ambitious timeline, announcing an expectation for “at least 60,000” doses to be administered by the end of February, and for this figure to “double from early March”.

However, just 31,000 doses were administered to those in the highest priority group during the first week of the rollout.

The government has also pushed out the timeline for four million doses to be administered from the end of March to early April. However, on Wednesday Morrison acknowledged this target may not be met.

“Any of these estimates that we give are always subject to the progress of the rollout and the events that we encounter along the way, and when we’re in a better position to give an update on those figures, then we will,” Morrison said.

At the same press conference on Wednesday morning at the headquarters of Australia’s drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, health department secretary Brendan Murphy said Australians didn’t need to worry about delays to vaccine rollouts because of the effective elimination of the virus from the community.

In defending the rollout, Murphy appeared to suggest the US and UK governments had skipped some steps in their rollouts because their vaccine programs were sped up to tackle high community transmission.

“This is not a race. We have no burning platform in Australia. We are taking it as quickly and carefully and safely as we can.

“We’re not like the US or the UK or most other countries in the world where they’ve got people in hospital dying. We can take our time, set up our systems, do it safely and carefully, we are expanding our rollout every day,” Murphy said.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: End of December more realistic target for all Australians to get Covid vaccine, AMA says | Australia news

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