Australia’s vaccine roll out has taken a disastrous turn. AstraZeneca has been ruled out as an option for anyone under 50 because of blood clot concerns. And now states are banning it entirely.
For a moment there was hope in Australia.
The mass vaccination hubs were ready. The plan was set. The vaccine roll out was all go.
Then late on Thursday night, the freshly vaccinated Prime Minister Scott Morrison pulled the handbrake, saying an advisory would be issued for AstraZeneca and anyone under 50 shouldn't use it.
By this morning there were crisis meetings with state leaders in Canberra.
The country’s plan B - is New Zealand’s plan A - the Pfizer jab. But it is dribbling into Australia.
Just enough vaccines for 70,000 people arrive each week.
So out went the plea for help and by lunchtime Morrison confirmed the Australian government had secured an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine
But unlike the agreement, the arrival is not an overnight solution.
"It is anticipated an additional 20 million [doses] will be available in quarter four of this year," said Morrison.
The opposition leader Anthony Albanese summed up the mood of Australians.
"The rollout of the vaccine is a debacle. "
In 2021 Morrison had just one job - to get the roll out of the vaccine right.
Instead - it couldn’t be going more wrong. At this rate - it means more lockdowns.
More months with the border shut.
And the biggest adverse effect - the population remains vulnerable.
A position New Zealand hasn’t found itself trapped in. New Zealand’s slow and steady pace on the vaccine roll out may ultimately win the trans-Tasman race