With new decisions about the AstraZeneca vaccine being made seemingly every day, the government has given up setting coronavirus vaccination targets altogether because nobody knows what the fuck is going on anymore.
The original plan was to administer around 80,000 vaccinations per week as early as February, with a total of four million Aussies vaccinated by the end of March. Instead, just 1.16 million doses have been given to date – and keep in mind that the vaccines currently available in Australia, made by AstraZeneca and Pfizer, both require two doses per person.
Then came the potential blood clot link, which has seen the government no longer recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 50.
While the vaccine is still considered safe (and with a lower reported risk of blood clots than other medications like the pill) it was still enough of an issue to make authorities hold back and regroup.
And now we’re here, where we have no fucking idea when we’ll eventually get vaccinated, what vaccine we’ll actually get, and when the country will be able to open up once again.
“The Government has also not set, nor has any plans to set any new targets for completing first doses,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison posted on Facebook on Sunday night.
“While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved.
“We will just get on with the job of working together to produce, distribute and administer the vaccines as safely and efficiently as possible.”
While a lot of these setbacks have been unpredictable, plenty of other countries managed to effectively hedge against the risks. Meanwhile, even before the blood clot drama, Australia’s rollout still lagged woefully behind the government’s own projections.
Now we’re here, and it’s not like we can just switch from administering AstraZeneca to Pfizer overnight. While the government has ordered a bunch of different options, we only ever had a very limited physical supply of the Pfizer vaccine in the country which went to health workers and the elderly.
The rest of us were supposed to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, although even that has been a pain to import from Europe. Australia’s one vaccine factory has already started producing the AstraZeneca vaccine, not the Pfizer vaccine. Meanwhile, the Novavax option likely won’t even be approved for use in Australia until the end of 2021.
Out of this chaos, the government can no longer give us a rough estimate on when this shit will finally be over, which sucks.
Morrison’s announcement also included a graph comparing us to the rest of the world. However it’s been truncated to compare Australia’s rollout with the equivalent moment in time for other countries, even if they started well before us and have now vaccinated a huge portion of their vaccination.
It’s an interesting metric and a fair bit less depressing than the usual comparison which shows places like the UK and US almost having a third of their populations fully vaccinated. But it’s also not immediately clear to someone having a quick scroll through their feed and could potentially be unclear.
Back in December when both vaccines were on the cusp of finally being approved in Australia, Health Minister Greg Hunt made a big deal about wanting to “underpromise and overdeliver”.
Now, the government’s doing neither.