Australia acknowledges 2-month delay in vaccinations amid outbreak

Sydney, Australia, Jul 21 (EFE).- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged on Wednesday that the country’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout is two months behind schedule as over half of its population remains in lockdown due to an outbreak.

The government had initially aimed to vaccinate the entire adult population before the end of October but current data shows that only 14 percent of those over 16 years of age have been fully vaccinated.

The government has blamed supply shortages and logistical challenges in the vast territory of the country for the delays, although its detractors also cite problems in the communications campaign and in negotiations with pharmaceutical companies.

“I take responsibility for the problems that we have had, but I am also taking responsibility for the solutions we’re putting in place and the vaccination rates that we are now achieving,” said Morrison, whose popularity has dipped due to the federal government’s handling of the current outbreak and the slow vaccination campaign, at a press conference.

The government has also changed age-group recommendations on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, due to concern over rare cases of blood in young people.

“We’ve had our challenges with this program, we’ve had significant challenges with this program, as many countries have,” Morrison said, adding that 1 million Australians had received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in the past week.

Criticism against the vaccination campaign has increased with a Covid-19 outbreak linked to the highly contagious Delta variant since mid-June, which has led to a lockdown of the outbreak’s epicenter, Greater Sydney, until July 30.

Regional authorities have also imposed a lockdown in the state of Victoria — the country’s second most populous after New South Wales — and South Australia until July 27.

Australia, which has kept its borders closed since March 2020 and has yet to repatriate 34,000 residents and citizens, has recorded more than 32,100 cases and 915 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, the health authorities reported 110 new infections in NSW, whose capital is Sydney, 22 in Victoria and one in South Australia, taking the total number of cases during the current outbreak to more than 1,400. EFE


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