Australia links Covid-19 vaccination delay to lack of supply

Sydney, Australia, March 31 (efe-epa).- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday that his country is lagging behind in vaccinations against Covid-19 due to a lack of supplies from abroad after Italy blocked an outbound shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines.

Since the vaccination officially began Feb. 22, the Australian Government has only met 15 percent of its immunization goal against the coronavirus set for March.

The government said some 4 million people would be vaccinated by the end of March – later revised to the end of April – as part of the vaccination campaign, which aims to freely and voluntarily immunize its 25 million inhabitants by the end of October.

So far, 597,000 doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered, government chief medical officer Paul Kelly told reporters Tuesday.

Italy blocked the shipment of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia in early March in accordance with the European Commission, although the country has already begun to distribute a similar drug produced locally under an agreement with the laboratory.

Shortly after, the government assured said this blockade would not impact the program, although it asked the European Union to review the measure.

Vaccine distribution in Australia has also been hampered by recent devastating floods that hit the New South Wales state, which includes Sydney and is the most populous in the country, as well as inoculation stock problems.

Vaccination delays have also caused clashes between the government and states and territories after Agriculture Minister David Littleproud accused these jurisdictions of stacking them rather than distributing them.

“The states are doing what they can with what is being distributed to them,” said Steven Miles, deputy head of the Queensland state government, which confined some 2.4 million Brisbane residents this week for an outbreak of the British variant that has infected about 20 people.

Australia, which has kept its international borders closed since March 2020, has accumulated some 29,300 cases of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, including 909 deaths, the majority caused by the second wave as a result of security breaches. EFE-EPA


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