Two days ago, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was time the government “refocused” its rollout plan, and consider prioritising Pfizer doses for young people in Sydney’s hardest-hit areas. She also said: “I will be taking to National Cabinet … [asking] … that consideration be given to at least having more people having at least one dose of the vaccine, which reduces transmission.”1
At the time, Covid-19 Vaccination task force head, Lieutenant General John Frewen said he had not yet received a formal request for extra Pfizer doses from NSW, nor was he aware of it petitioning other states. He also said that the Commonwealth did not have Pfizer doses to reallocate, as current supplies had already been sent out to the states.2
Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected the bid by Berejiklian for Pfizer doses to be re-allocated from other states. The other states also knocked back the request2, just as Berejiklian did when she received a request from Victoria when they were locked down in early June3. However, the federal government has now allocated an extra 50,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from an as yet unallocated supply from the ‘national stockpile’. This will increase the allocation of Pfizer doses to NSW from 150,000 to 200,0004. Did Frewen not know about this national stockpile? NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard certainly didn’t seem to know about it, or if NSW was getting any of it. Berejiklian seems not to have known about it, because she asked the states to send some of their allocations to NSW.
Why is there an unallocated national stockpile of Pfizer vaccine when many younger people are unable to book in for vaccinations because of a lack of supply? If this is an ‘emergency’ supply, then why wait until the number of cases in Sydney is well over 100 per day before it is allocated? Is 50,000 doses the entirety of the ‘national stockpile’? If not, how many more doses remain in it?
Some of the more cynical among those who understand what Scott Morrison is like5, believe it possible that his stockpile is not so much a national stockpile, but an election stockpile.