In early January, 2021, I ranted about the lie Morrison told us “Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful.” At that time, everyone knew it was equine ordure, because over 40 countries had already started vaccinating their population with either the Russian Sputnik V, the German BioNtech/Pfizer or the Chinese Sinovac vaccines. Most of these vaccination programs had started some time in December 20201.
The government uttered another couple of lies to try to deflect guilt away from the initial lie, with the Health Minister initially stating that we cannot accelerate the vaccine rollout because the Therapeutic Goods Administration should not be rushed in their approval process. Subsequently, the government did accelerate the process, thereby demonstrating Hunt was lying. Morrison also chimed in again with the March rollout was needed after the January approval so each batch of vaccine could be tested, something he said the UK was not doing. The UK refuted this, demonstrating that this too, was a lie1.
The vaccination rollout has been so hopeless, that Australia is lagging behind most other countries in vaccinating its populace. As of a couple of days ago, 4 million doses had been administered2, and Health Minister Greg Hunt admitted in a television interview that 500,000 people had been fully vaccinated (i.e. had had both doses of either the BioNTech/Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines)3. So, while 13% have had at least one dose, only about 2% of the population have been fully vaccinated. So far, 50% of the adult population of the US has been fully vaccinated4; and 45% of the adult population of the UK have been fully vaccinated5. In Canada, 22.3 million doses have been administered, such that 54% of the population that have received at least one dose. Canada’s second dose rollout is lagging a bit, but despite this, about 5% of the population have been fully vaccinated6.
Where are we in relation to other countries? A long way behind. Apart from number of doses administered and the proportion of the populations fully vaccinated, the standard way of measuring vaccine rollout seems to be doses administered per hundred people. The New York Times has been keeping a tally of such a vaccination league table. At the time of writing, the most advanced countries in vaccination rollout are the UAE, Israel, Aruba and Bahrain who have each administered over 100 doses per hundred population. Australia has administered about 15 doses per hundred people. We are on the league table along with such scientific powerhouses as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (17 per hundred), Kazakhstan (16), Equatorial Guinean (15), India (15), Samoa (14) and Suriname (14)7.
It has often been said that this government is full of announcements but with little follow through. This is also true of ‘targets’ for vaccination. Morrison initially announced at the same time he stated Australians would be first in line for vaccines, on January 7, that we should have 80,000 doses administered by March 1st. 30, 000 doses had been given by that date and at the time Morrison announced that by the end of March, 4 million doses should be administered. However, by January 25th, that had been moved back to early April. By February 5, that had slipped again to April 15th. By March 11th, it had slipped to an undefined date. By April 12 the concept of targets had been jettisoned8.
A similar thing happened with the end date of vaccination (i.e. when every adult would be vaccinated). On January 21st, Hunt said “Our goal is very clear …to have the country [20 million adults] vaccinated before the end of October. This was restated by the Secretary of the Department of Health, Brendan Murphy on March 10th and again by Morrison on March 11th. However, that same day Murphy said that they didn’t know if they would “be able to achieve two shots” by the end of October. Again, that same day (March 11th) Associate Secretary of the Department of Health, Caroline Edwards said “In the event we don’t get all shots by the end of October, then the second shot would be finished six weeks after the end of October” (i.e. mid-December). With the jettisoning of targets, it was stated in Budget Paper No. 1, on May 11th that “it is assumed that a population-wide vaccination program is likely to be in place by the end of 2021.” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg stated that the budget assumption was that every Australian would get two shots of the vaccine…by the end of the year.” On the following day, Morrison backed away from the statement by Frydenberg that Australians would have two doses by the end of the year, stating that it could be two doses or one dose, and could be many months either side of that. On May 12th, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham stated that he expected some Australians will still be getting vaccinated in 2022. On May 13th, Minister for Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, stated that everyone who wants a vaccine will have the first dose by the end of the year8.
Given the current rate of vaccination, administering 40 million doses to 20 million adult Australians will take until September 20228. This vaccine rollout has been a farce from the first time Morrison uttered the word ‘vaccine’, and it has been replete with lies and obfuscation ever since.