Sign up for myFT Daily Digest and be the first to learn about Australian news.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, during the worst Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney, Ken McCroary has been racing to vaccinate as many people as possible. But he has been struggling with a problem that hinders Australia’s vaccination plan: According to reports, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can cause blood clots in rare cases, so he is hesitant to vaccine.
“People call our clinic and say they want Pfizer instead of a’blood clot vaccine’,” said McCrory, who works as a doctor in Campbelltown, one of the country’s lowest vaccinated suburbs. one. “Although the risk is extremely rare, people are still afraid of blood clots.”
There are 12 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia, but almost half are not used, and BioNTech/Pfizer mRNA vaccine stocks are in short supply.
This led to a vaccination program in a Glacier speed — More than 15% of Australians are fully vaccinated, making it one of the countries with the lowest coverage rate in developed countries. This is one of the reasons why the country has failed to shake off the clutches of the coronavirus.
Australia is Initially praised Covid was suppressed after the government imposed a severe blockade and closed the border last year. Residents basically complied with the restrictions, the death toll was limited to 1,000 people, and the economy was reopened.
But the outbreak caused by the rapidly spreading Delta variant caused the authorities to Re-impose the blockade In the past month, economists have warned that the country faces the prospect of a double-dip recession.
This time, residents also showed signs of being fed up with restrictions: anti-blockade protests across the country attracted thousands of demonstrators last month. Authorities deployed 300 soldiers in Sydney this week to strengthen compliance with the six-week blockade, as the number of active cases has exceeded 3,250. The government stated that it cannot relax the lockdown until at least 70% of adults are vaccinated.
“I’m fed up with blockades and border closures, especially when vaccination is so difficult,” said Gabrielle, a woman in her 30s who refused to provide her full name.
She said she tried to book an AstraZeneca vaccination this week, but decided to give up after contacting several clinics. “A clinic told me that AstraZeneca is not recommended for women under the age of 40 and suggested that I try to buy Pfizer,” she said.
The Australian government has promised that the country will be “first in the list” of vaccines. Instead, Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Scott Morrison) Have to apologize Because he failed to reach the goal, he rejected the government’s claim that the government had messed up the procurement of jabs.
Canberra’s efforts have also been hampered The failure of domestic vaccines A project between the University of Queensland and the Australian pharmaceutical company CSL.
The government and Pfizer also signed the agreement very slowly, initially only purchasing 10 million doses of vaccine.The delay in the delivery of the 40 million doses it ordered further hit it Novax, An American biotechnology company.
“The federal government ordered the vaccine very late. The idea at the time was that we had very little Covid-19 in Australia, so don’t worry,” Adrian Ess, an epidemiologist and biostatistician at the University of South Australia Said Adrian Esterman.
Government information about vaccines, especially in Relationship with AstraZeneca Jab, It’s already bad, he added.
Critics attacked Morrison saying Vaccination Before the latest outbreak, it was “not a game.”
Atagi, Australia’s chief vaccine consulting agency, has repeatedly changed its recommendations for vaccines.Last month, it recommended Pfizer as the “first choice” vaccine for people under 60 because Rare blood clot conditionBut due to the outbreak in Sydney, it updated its recommendations last week, stating that all adults over the age of 18 should receive any vaccine, including AstraZeneca.
Sara GilbertThe Oxford University vaccinology professor who helped design the AstraZeneca vaccine blamed the hesitation on mixed information. “We can see a lot of people lost their lives as a result,” she told Australia’s National Broadcasting Corporation.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said: “Most of us can’t just sit back and say I don’t want to have a vaccine that almost every country in the world has actually vaccinated and ensures the safety of other countries.” Zhou, New South Wales.
There are signs that the latest efforts may begin to work, at least in Sydney.A survey conducted by the University of Melbourne last week showed that the public’s hesitation has Depraved It accounts for 21.5% of the adult population, down from about a third in May.
But McCrory said that persuading people to take the AstraZeneca vaccine is still a challenge.
“All the mixed information has implanted negative thoughts in people’s minds. I am worried that everything is too little now, it is too late.”
The latest coronavirus news
Pay attention to the on-site report and analysis of the British “Financial Times” on the global epidemic and the rapidly evolving economic crisis here.