In the latest inter-state squabble to hit headlines this pandemic, NSW is set to receive 50,000 Pfizer vaccine doses from an emergency ‘national stockpile’ that the Health Department has confirmed does not exist.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian the extra doses after National Cabinet rejected her request for other states to hand over some of their own vaccines.
The thing is, other states are saying that they’ve never even heard of our federal government having a ‘national stockpile’ of Pfizer vaccines to dip into. And given the recent claims that Morrison plays favourites with NSW, well, people are pissed off.
“We don’t know what this national stockpile is, that’s news to us,” WA Premier Mark McGowan told reporters on Monday morning.
“If there is a big warehouse sitting there full of Pfizer, my view is they should give it to the states and we’ll put it in people’s arms.
“If you have spare Pfizer, please give it to us.”
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner also said he’d never heard of the national stockpile.
“Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer said that New South Wales has received 50,000 additional doses from the national stockpile,” Gunner said.
“I hope that’s a very poorly chosen set of words. I’m not aware of a national stockpile.”
MORRISON: Ok, NSW can have 50k doses, I'll grab them from the national stockpile.
STATES: Wait, there's a stockpile?
MORRISON: Well. We call it that but it's really just a few spare doses set aside. No big deal. [stands up, dozens of Pfizer doses fall out of his pockets] https://t.co/zErP3UG3mT
— Patrick Stokes (@patstokes) July 24, 2021
Well, as it turns out, it actually was a poorly chosen set of words, because there isn’t really an actual ‘national stockpile’ of Pfizer vaccines.
In a statement, a Health Department spokesperson clarified that the vaccines are actually coming from a shipment that hadn’t been allocated to states yet.
“In mid-July, to support the NSW government’s response to the outbreak in Sydney, the Vaccine Taskforce brought forward an additional 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for NSW,” the spokesperson said.
“This included 150,000 doses of AstraZeneca and 150,000 doses of Pfizer from future allocations.
“The Commonwealth provided the additional 150,000 doses of Pfizer to NSW over the past fortnight.”
The spokesperson went on to clarify that the doses weren’t from some secret federal warehouse, but from new shipments.
“In addition, the Commonwealth is able to provide NSW with an additional 50,000 doses of Pfizer this week,” the statement said.
“These additional doses are due to more doses than expected being delivered by Pfizer.
“The Commonwealth does not have a stockpile of Pfizer vaccines.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt also clarified that no state or territory was going to have their vaccine supply reduced, amidst all the squabbling over vaccines between NSW and other states.
“These were previously unallocated doses, the first 150,000 [and] the 50,000 is coming forward from the supplies that are arriving,” he said.
“All states and territories are receiving exactly the per capita amount which was pledged at the commencement of July.”
For someone who previously worked in marketing, Scott Morrison sure fucks up government communication remarkably often. But hey, at least the Pfizer shipments are coming early – that’s the best news we’ve gotten regarding the pandemic in a while.