Sydney, Australia, Jul 25 (EFE).- The Australian government announced on Sunday that it has secured 85 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses that will be delivered in 2022 and 2023 to serve as booster shots against Covid-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has come under criticism for delays in the country’s vaccination rollout, said in a statement that this move “will ensure individuals, families and communities have certainty about their continued protection against the evolving threat of Covid-19 over the next two years.”
“Every Australian will have access to a booster shot if it is needed,” said the prime minister, whose popularity has taken a hit during the current outbreak of the virus in Australia and despite handling the pandemic well in the first few months last year.
The first batch of 60 million doses will be delivered in the first quarter of 2022, while the remaining 25 million will arrive in 2023.
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.
Over half of the country’s 25 million residents are now in lockdown due to an outbreak linked to the highly contagious Delta variant found in mid-June, which prompted the first confinement of the outbreak’s epicenter, Greater Sydney, from June 27 until July 30.
The health authorities of the state of New South Wales, whose capital is Sydney, reported 141 new cases and two deaths on Sunday.
Regional authorities have also imposed a lockdown in the state of Victoria, which reported 11 new cases on Sunday, and South Australia, which recorded three infections, until July 27.
“There’s not an easy way to bring the cases down and it’s the lockdown that does that work,” Morrison said at a press conference on Sunday.
“The vaccines can provide some assistance, but they’re not what is going to end this lockdown,” he added.
Australia, which has relied on swift, tough lockdowns to contain virus outbreaks, has recorded more than 32,800 cases and 918 deaths since the start of the pandemic. EFE