Sydney, Apr 5 (FN Agency) Australian Federal Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud blamed his country’s fall-back on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout scheme on the European Union’s toughened rules for vaccine exports. “We are 3 million short at the moment. We were 3 million short by the EU. They cut us short,” Littleproud said as quoted by 9News agency.
The minister referred to the European Union’s blocking the shipment of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to the country due to the EU tightening its export rules in an attempt to secure its own vaccine supply. In addition, the lack of certainty in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland on local supplies from health officials has caused problems in the states with scheduling appointments for vaccination jabs. Australia is currently millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses behind, but the government is trying to ramp up the rollout. “We are making up for that 3 million we were undercut by the EU and we have to trust Australian manufacturing to do the job, and they will,” Littleproud added.
By the end of March, Australia was expecting to have administered three million COVID19 vaccine doses, but so far, the number stands at 840,000. Australia started manufacturing its own batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine in mid-March. According to 9News, the manufacturing of the locally-made AstraZeneca was also put behind schedule but production is expected to rise once again. From today, the number of places where people can get vaccinated doubled to 3,000. The NSW region is expected to introduce mass vaccination hubs at stadiums and convention centres which proved to have worked successfully in the United Kingdom and United States. It is expected that by the end of the week, around one million Australians will receive the COVID-19 vaccine.