The Morrison government has fallen short in all areas of the Covid vaccine rollout | Greg Jericho
We’re nearly 18 months into the Covid-19 pandemic and the Australian government has now released a confronting ad attempting to scare people into getting a vaccine. It is a fair indication that they have failed at their job.
It is not just that the advert featuring a young woman in intensive care targets an audience which until now has either been unable to or advised not to get the vaccine.
Since March last year, people across the nation have had their lives severely disrupted – they’ve missed public events, school and work, family gatherings, and moments of shared joy and grief.
This is not a case of saying “you had one job” – the Morrison government had several jobs regarding the vaccine. And it has failed them.
On Monday Sydney marked its 679th case in this latest outbreak:
The curve is not flattening, and clearly the tool to prevent further outbreaks is vaccination.
But the data shows the rollout had problems from the start – and has gotten worse.
As Amy Remeikis related last week, the Morrison government has shifted the goalposts evermore towards the “horizon”.
Similarly, Nick Evershed and Christopher Knaus have forensically gone through the Morrison government’s policy stuff up that has led us to our current state of coming dead last among OECD nations for vaccinations:
As damning as that statistic is, it does not reveal the full story, nor the major problem going ahead.
The vaccination program essentially comes in three parts – firstly, securing the vaccine; secondly, giving people a first dose, and finally, getting them fully vaccinated.
On the first part, despite assertions last year by the prime minister Scott Morrison that we were “front of the queue”, we have lagged well behind other nations.
Most European countries began vaccinations just after Christmas, and the UK and US got going a bit earlier. Australia’s rollout only began on 22 February.
So we were already playing a two-month game of catch-up:
So that is strike one.
You might argue the slow start is not the government’s fault – after all, Japan and South Korea only began their vaccine rollouts in late February. But given the initial promises the government made on delivery and their decision to order so few Pfizer vaccines, a pass here requires a lot of forgiving.
Then we come to the rollout itself.
It is now nearly 140 days since our first vaccination, and 26% of the population have had at least one dose. At the same stage, 33% of Canadians had received one dose, 45% of Americans, and half of everyone in the UK:
And worryingly, while our rollout is not the slowest in the OECD (that title goes to Mexico), we are falling behind.
Prior to 22 June our rollout was proceeding at around the median pace of the rest of the OECD – but in the past month we have fallen behind:
This is no surprise when you consider that period has coincided with a mass of confusion and fear about the efficacy, dangers and availability of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Morrison government through the national cabinet has failed to deliver a consistent, measured and unified message on the AstraZenca vaccine.
As a result the data shows the pace of vaccinations is now below where we would expect it to be given what has happened in other nations.
So that’s strike two.
Then there is the pace of fully vaccinating citizens people.
This also comes down to government decisions. Canada for example has taken a first dose fast approach – seeking to give as many people at least one dose before prioritising the second dose.
Australia has no such policy, but our reliance on the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has a longer waiting time between the first and second dose than the Pfizer vaccination, means our pace of fully vaccinating people lags well behind the OECD average:
After the first 140 days of their vaccine rollout, the UK had 21% of its population fully vaccinated and the US had a massive 33%. By contrast, Australia has just 8.6% – the fourth-worst in the OECD, and third-worst if we exclude Canada:
And that’s strike three.
Our vaccine program has been one of a slow start and a slow roll out, and an utter failure by the Morrison government.