Hurried Pfizer and the blusterer’s stone
Stones belatedly unturned by the man who didn’t order enough vaccines
With NSW announcing another 12 COVID-19 deaths today, Victoria coming to terms with grim months ahead, and experts sounding the alarm about the health system’s ability to cope, a boastful Scott Morrison has announced the bringing forward of more of the vaccines we have desperately needed for months now – with a tone-deaf quip about owing Boris Johnson a beer. Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s national cabinet meeting, the prime minister announced yet another vaccine “swap”, one that will see the UK send Australia 4 million extra doses of Pfizer, doubling our stock in September, with the doses to be returned when we have more ample supply in December. (It’s a “good deal between mates”, as Morrison put it.) This follows news on Tuesday that Singapore would send Australia 500,000 doses of Pfizer that are due to expire soon, with the PM noting that he wasn’t leaving any stone unturned – now that things are dire, it seems. “I can tell you I’ve been turning over some stones in recent times,” he remarked, boasting that this deal would allow the country to reopen sooner. The UK vaccine swap is undeniably good news, though as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews implied in his concurrent press conference, let’s hope it doesn’t impact people’s willingness to take up the many AstraZeneca appointments available for this weekend. And, more to the point, why couldn’t Morrison – who, as it hardly bears repeating, told us for months that the vaccine rollout wasn’t a race – have tried turning over some stones before half the population was plunged into deep, dark vaccine-reliant lockdowns, which condemn the nation to another recession? Why couldn’t he have shown some basic care or urgency before it was his political life on the line? Morrison certainly does owe Boris a beer for getting him out of a tight spot. But the PM shouldn’t be expecting commendation for this face-saving announcement. The fact is Australia’s chance at a unified, orderly transition with the minimum amount of pain and suffering has been obliterated, all because he lacks the ability to plan ahead.
Morrison, the prime minister who loves more than anything to make announcements, is eager to get as much recognition as he can for his belated efforts, just as he has been for every little increase (or perceived increase) in doses, ever hopeful that Australians will credit his government with getting them out of the lockdowns which they find themselves in, in large part due to his negligence. But his efforts are just that: belated. Australians are paying the price for his bizarre decision not to prioritise the rollout, or to go seeking extra vaccine supplies until it was painfully late (something all the more astounding now it’s clear there is Pfizer out there in the world for the taking). Will he get away with it? The PM keeps saying in Question Time that it’s “how you finish the race” that matters – something that is patently false, as many on the east coast can see for themselves. Morrison has previously tried to make the ludicrous claim that there was no way a more on-track vaccine rollout could have prevented the situation in NSW (and now ACT, Victoria and New Zealand), when it’s clear that even a slightly more vaccinated population (or a vaccinated limo driver) might have seen this off. Morrison will no doubt be hoping that he can go to the election with lockdowns a thing of the past, banking on the fact that people will forgive and forget the rougher than necessary ride.
Speaking to reporters today, the PM continued to label the vaccines “doses of hope”, promising that they would see the country reopen sooner. The “good deal between mates” is of course a welcome acceleration, though it’s worth noting that it doesn’t mean any extra doses overall. What will this mean for Australia’s Pfizer supply come December, when it’s time to return the favour? Morrison noted that the UK would need them more at that time, when it would suit its booster program. But Australia will certainly still be trying to get more of its people vaccinated at that stage, with leaders still at loggerheads over exactly what reopening thresholds are required, not to mention the fact that it will be time to start considering our own booster program. Will Australia now not be getting any Pfizer in the final month of the year?
Once again, Morrison wants Australians to believe he has come to the rescue with more doses, when the fact that we are so terrifyingly in need of them is entirely on him. For months, premiers have been crying out for additional vaccine supply, with the prime minister blaming everything from international supply chains to hesitancy to ATAGI. Now, he tells us, he is overturning stones. It’s clear many had been left unturned until now. Is this another example of Morrison not planning ahead? The UK government may want to be a little wary of promises made to it by the Morrison government. Australians certainly should be by now.
The prime minister, in attacking Queensland’s “misreading” of the Doherty modelling, fails to grasp the meaning of best- and worst-case scenarios.
Are we heading towards a pandemic election?
The country might still be in the grip of a pandemic and ongoing lockdowns, but our major parties are already planning for a federal election. The prime minister has strongly hinted the nation could be heading to the polls in just a few months, and the political battle lines are now being drawn.
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With NSW announcing another 12 COVID-19 deaths today, Victoria coming to terms with grim months ahead, and experts sounding the alarm about the health system’s ability to cope, a boastful Scott Morrison has announced the bringing forward of more of the vaccines we have desperately needed for months now – with a tone-deaf quip about owing Boris Johnson a beer. Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s national cabinet meeting, the prime minister announced yet another vaccine “swap”, one that will see the UK send Australia 4 million extra doses of Pfizer, doubling our stock in September, with the doses to be returned when we have more ample supply in December. (It’s a “good deal between mates”, as Morrison put it.) This follows news on Tuesday that Singapore would send...
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