Australian PM Scott Morrison blames problems with vaccine supplies from European Union (IT IS).
Content will continue after the ad
The shortage of vaccines and the strict export controls introduced by the European Commission (EC) mean that: Australia received only 700,000 of the 3.8 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine provided for in the contracts.
As a result, Australia is lagging behind its vaccination schedule and public dissatisfaction is growing.
The government initially promised to use four million doses of the vaccine by the end of March, but only 920,000 doses were used by Wednesday.
“3.1 million vaccines did not come to Australia – that’s a fact,” Morrison told a news conference.
“It’s not a dispute. It’s not a conflict. (..) It’s not a clash. It’s a simple fact,” the prime minister stressed.
Australia has received approximately 870,000 doses of Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, which is used to vaccinate physicians and other essential services.
For vaccination of the general public, the authorities relied on imported and locally produced doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.
However, the EU suspended the export of 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca from Italy to Australia in March, believing that AstraZeneca had failed to meet its obligations to the EU. Since then, the EU has further tightened controls on vaccine exports. Morrison’s government at the time stressed that it would not affect Australia’s vaccination plan.
Morrison said today that EU officials have assured him that AstraZeneca’s export requests are currently being processed.
Morrison added that he was also still awaiting the EU’s response to a request to channel a million-dollar dose to Australia to neighboring Papua New Guinea, which is experiencing a widespread pandemic.
At the start of the pandemic, Morrison expressed confidence that Australia would be one of the first in the line of vaccines because it had contracts with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Novavax.
The slow pace of vaccination has recently led to a sharp exchange of words between Morrison and the officials running the vaccination program.
“Scott Morrison must stop pretending there is no hurry. Vaccination is our ticket back to normal – the government needs to start moving,” said opposition leader Anthony Albany.