After lying to Australians, in November 2020, that we would be at the head of the queue for vaccination1, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as if to excuse himself, has said in reference to the vaccine rollout “it’s not a race”2. Morrison is only saying it is not a race because we are well behind most other developed nations in the vaccine rollout (many people online are terming it a strollout because of its slow pace). For instance, at the time of writing, Israel has 60% of its population fully vaccinated (i.e. having had two doses); Chile, 52%; Hungary, 49%; UK, 47%; Uruguay, 45%; USA, 45%; Serbia, 36%; Germany, 35%; Spain, 34%; Netherlands, 32%. Appallingly, Australia has only 4.7% of its population fully vaccinated3.
Even nations where the vaccination rate is quite high are having to cope with another outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19, which is much more contagious than its precursors. For instance, in the middle of May, 2021, the UK was getting about 2,200 new cases a day, down from almost 60,000 a day in early January when very few had been vaccinated. Now the infection rate is starting to climb again, and is now over 12,000 per day. The death rate is starting to edge up again also, the rate in mid-May was about 8 deaths per day, but it has now risen to 16 per day4. This is in a nation with nearly half of its population fully vaccinated.
As Raina MacIntyre has said, we are sitting ducks in the face of a Delta outbreak with such a low vaccination rate5, which is what is happening in New South Wales currently. This outbreak is why greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Illawarra are in lockdown and why I am currently subject to a stay at home order for a fortnight, having come home from greater Sydney last Wednesday. MacIntyre also notes that the main transmission medium is not droplets from coughs or sneezes, but by aerosol; i.e. inhaling air that someone infected has exhaled5. This is something for which there has been good evidence for over a year6.
Morrison only says it is not a race because of his and his government’s manifest incompetence in obtaining and ‘strolling’ out vaccines7. It is crystal clear that we are indeed involved in a race; a race against time and against a virus which has now killed just under 4 million people across the world. Because of the federal government’s incompetence, it is a race many of us who have not been vaccinated, may lose.