Australia is “nowhere near” its target of vaccinating the entire adult population by the end of October, with experts now suggesting the country approach the United States to buy its excess vaccine stock.
Australia’s vaccination rate has been ranked between 90th and 100th in the world, with just 0.53 per cent of the country’s population having received the jab so far.
University of New South Wales strategic health policy consultant Adjunct Professor Bill Bowtell said there were “serious issues” with Australia’s rollout and health officials should turn to the US for help.
“America vaccinated 4 million people in a single day on Saturday and we still haven’t hit a million people vaccinated,” he told NCA NewsWire.
“The worldwide production of vaccines in America is accelerating through the roof. There will be excess capacity of the Pfizer in America so we should be approaching them for help.”
Professor Bowtell slammed Australia’s rollout as “slow and cheap”.
“Given the settings and what the federal government seems to be hinting at, I don’t think they can vaccinate everyone by the end of the year, let alone by the end of October,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised an four million jabs administered by the end of March, but only 840,000 vaccines have been given.
“Lebanon, for example, is in collapse — utter, total system collapse — and yet it is performing much better than Australia with its rollout,” Professor Bowtell said.
“The UK played the field with all the different types of vaccines, America invested hugely in manufacturing … Australia just said ‘no we just want a manufacturing deal with CSL’ – which is fine but means we are hostage to the manufacturing wind up that clearly dragged out – we backed only one vaccine, with a bit of Pfizer.
“We took political decisions that restricted supply.”
With a new coronavirus variant proving to be up to three times more deadly for young people now sweeping through Brazil and spreading to other countries, professor Bowtell said Australia was “in a race against variants”.
“In the world, the virus is mutating faster than we in Australia are vaccinating,” he said.
“This is bad for health, it’s bad for jobs, it’s bad for lockdowns – we are so far below the international norm and so far below where less capable countries are at.”
But deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd said Australia was delivering the equivalent of what the Americans were administering in a day – one million doses.
“Population wise, we’re actually delivering the equivalent of more than that here in Australia, and it is continuing to rise,” he told ABC Breakfast.
The number of GP clinics offering vaccine services was due to double to 3000 by the end of this week.
State and territory leaders will meet on Friday for national cabinet, where the vaccine rollout will be discussed.