Australia has rapidly fallen behind other nations for its Covid-19 vaccine rollout leaving it 102th in the world, as doctors call for state governments to take over.
The federal Government had originally planned to have four million doses administered by April 1, but is 3.4 million doses short of meeting its target – with the million mark expected to finally be hit next week.
The rollout has been plagued by delivery delays and complications, with many GP clinics simply unable to give out the desired number of jabs.
So far, just shy of 670,500 vaccinations have been delivered nationally and there are 2.4 million doses on Australia’s shores that are yet to be dispersed.
Health experts warn a slow rollout could have dire consequences, with the possibility of new variants emerging, breaches in quarantine, and decelerating the reopening of the economy – not to mention the international borders.
Australia is 3.4 million doses behind meeting its Covid-19 vaccine schedule, ranking 102th in the world for the total amount of inoculations per 100 people. Pictured: A registered nurse receives the jab in Townsville earlier this month
Australia is currently ranked 102th in the world for the total amount of vaccinations distributed per 100 people, at a score of 2.34 – placing it behind third-world countries like Rwanda (99th at 2.69).
Meanwhile, British territory Gibraltar is number one (175.27), followed by Israel (115.54), while the UK sits at 12th (50.85) and the US at 17th (44.13).
Scott Morrison on Wednesday set a new goal of distributing six million vaccines by May 10, but experts warn the milestone will still be almost impossible to meet as 170,000 people would need to be inoculated each day.
At the current rate, of 31,000 per day, experts fear the ‘window of zero infections’ will be missed.
Health experts warn a slow rollout could allow for new variants of Covid-19 which would render current vaccinations obsolete (pictured, vaccinations in the UK)
They are now calling on the government to open mass vaccination centres in sports stadiums and cathedrals, as has been done overseas, to address the issue.
‘What is happening is very serious supply shortages and no plan to up the supply,’ University of UNSW Professor Bill Bowtell told the Daily Telegraph.
Professor Bowtell said the Morrison government should look to increase supplies of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson jabs from overseas and if they don’t, the state governments should take over.
‘The virus is racing ahead of us. And if the federal government [won’t get additional supplies] then the state governments ought to,’ he said.
The Australian Medical Association slammed the rollout delays as ‘unnecessary’.
Third-world countries, such as Rwanda (pictured), are beating Australia in delivering vaccines to citizens
‘There is no excuse for vaccines to be sitting in fridges and freezers,’ AMA boss Omar Khorshid said.
Dr Stephen Duckett, a health expert from the Grattan Institute of Health, said while international supply issues are part of the problem, the government’s vaccination program was inadequate.
‘You can’t do a mass vaccination strategy through general practice. You have to do mass vaccination centres,’ he said.
Dr Duckett said the delayed rollout could allow for new variants to render doses obsolete, enable breaches in quarantine, and hamper economy recovery efforts.
Several residents, from Sydney and Brisbane have reported being turned away from vaccination clinics, despite their eligibility, due to limited resources.
Melbourne GP Joe Garra said his vaccination clinic only receives 50 doses a week and is he now calling on the federal government to allow him and 15 other doctors to open a ‘jab hub’ in a local public building.
The calls comes after two federal ministers sparked outrage from NSW and Queensland with their criticism of the speed of the rollout and the warehousing of doses.
‘Our biggest issue with the vaccines at the moment is to make sure that the states and territories rollout the supply of the vaccines that they have,’ Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said.
He wants states to use their ‘stockpiles’, especially to cover vulnerable groups.
Another minister, David Littleproud, said he wants states, particularly his home state of Queensland, to ‘pull their finger out’ as frontline workers wait for the jab.
Health experts are calling for state governments to take over the rollout as targets fail to be met. Pictured: A woman receiving a Covid-19 vaccine in Israel
Gladys Berjiklian (pictured on Wednesday) said the reports were ‘not true’ and were ‘unfair’ after state authorities were only given less than two days notice that they would be receiving more doses than initially anticipated
According to federal figures, NSW has used only half of the 190,610 doses it had received, and Queensland was at 55 per cent.
But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the reports are ‘not true’.
She warned the only way of meeting the federal target of vaccinating the Australian population by October is for federal and state governments to work cooperatively.
‘Our government wants to speed things up,’ she said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk remains concerned about supplies of vaccines and the nursing home rollout, both of which are in the hands of the Morrison government.
Total vaccinations administered per 100 people in a population
1. Gibraltar 175.27
2. Israel 115.54
3. Seychelles 102.25
4. United Arab Emirates 83.12
5. Cayman Islands 72.43
6. Falkland Islands 62.79
7. Bermuda 60.68
8. Isle of Man 58.55
9. Jersey 54.53
10. Chile 53.26
12. United Kingdom 50.85
17. United States
29. Singapore 22.54
36. Denmark 18.9
38. Turkey 18.14
43. Spain 16.55
46. Italy 16.42
50. Germany 16.09
54. France 15.72
59. Canada 14.5
70. Greenland 9.04
77. China 7.97
88. India 4.57
92. Indonesia 3.94
99. Rwanda 2.69
102. Australia 2.34
Her government wants federal authorities to publish daily figures on the number of vaccinations and the supply of vaccines to each state and territory, to provide greater transparency.
‘If the Commonwealth can tell us what their supply is, we are more than happy to roll out the rest of that as quickly as possible,’ Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was ‘angry’ at the suggestions from federal ministers.
‘We are at the frontline of a war, NSW and the other public health teams, and we have been doing a very good job with our public health officials working hard.’
Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters the states and territories were doing a ‘first-class job’.
‘The general practices have stepped up, the Commonwealth is contributing and all are coming together to see that figure of 72,000 vaccinations in the last 24 hours and 670,000 vaccinations cumulatively,’ he said.
Pictured: Packaging and fridges used to store Covid-19 vaccine at a DHL facility in Sydney, on Sunday February 14
He said Queensland’s decision to hold back some doses as a contingency was “a matter for them”.
But all states were working on the basis of a 12-week vaccine supply plan, he said.
However, the states want the next meeting of the national cabinet to review the supply process.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised four million people would be vaccinated by the end of March, but was 3.4 million short.
‘It would be good if the federal government took responsibility for something,’ Mr Albanese said.
Mr Morrison said it was not a race between states and the target of four million by the end of the month had been ‘dealt with months ago’.
‘That being put up as some constant target is just politics,’ he said.