COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES | Australian states squabble as NSW seeks vaccine priority amid Covid-19 'emergency'
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Australian states squabble as NSW seeks vaccine priority amid Covid-19 'emergency'
Australia's largest state of New South Wales on Friday urged the federal government to divert vaccine doses to Sydney, the epicentre of a flaring COVID-19 outbreak, raising objections from other states desperate for protection from the virus.
Australia is battling a supply shortfall of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine as its COVID-19 inoculation strategy had focused on AstraZeneca which was subsequently deemed unsafe for those under 60 years by the country's drug regulator.
That health order resulted in a glut of AstraZeneca vaccines, which many Australians are uncomfortable to take, and sparked a scramble for Pfizer which was in short supply as the government had only ordered 10 million doses for the country of 26 million.
As a result, only 15% of Australia's adult population is fully vaccinated, lagging the COVID-19 inoculation rate in other rich nations.
Now, with Sydney ailing from a relentless surge in the Delta variant of coronavirus despite weeks of lockdown, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday branded the situation a “national emergency”, signalling vaccination as the only solution to “our freedoms.
“The Sydney outbreak has ballooned to nearly 1,800 cases since mid-June.
“We know that in some places around Australia there are very few cases or zero cases,” Berejiklian said in a televised news briefing.
“We need to get at least the first jab for as many people as we can in those affected communities as possible, and that's why we are asking for a refocus of the national vaccination strategy.
“The comment did not go down very well with other states who are unwilling to spare Pfizer doses.
“We need to be very careful when having a discussion about who we prioritise,” Victoria Premier Dan Andrews said.
Victoria, which is in a lockdown until next Tuesday, reported 14 cases on Friday, mostly in Melbourne.
“The fact of the matter is, we don’t have enough vaccine for everyone and the virus will go to the unvaccinated. This is how it works,” Andrews said.
#COVID19 UPDATE: A total of 55,981 tests were conducted in the last 24 hrs, with 14,858 new cases, which represents a 26.5% positivity rate. A further 433 #COVID19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 68,625 to date. Read more: https://t.co/T36dLIfhex pic.twitter.com/68arHKTTJA— NICD (@nicd_sa) July 22, 2021