The one Covid-19 comparison the PM won't make



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Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses the media at a press conference at The Lodge. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary RamageSource:News Corp Australia

COMMENT

When it comes to Australia’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Scott Morrison isn’t afraid to compare us to the rest of the world.

Speaking from The Lodge today, the Prime Minister opened by saying what Australia is facing now is no different to the rest of the world.

The UK, Indonesia, Singapore, the Netherlands — they’re all in worse positions than Australia right now.

“What Australia is dealing with right now is no different to countries all around the world — whether it’s in the United Kingdom where we’re seeing almost 50,000 case as day. 94 deaths yesterday.

“We’re seeing similar very high rates of infection in Indonesia. We’re seeing it in the developing world. We’re seeing it in the developed world.

“We’re seeing lockdowns occur back in Singapore again. We’ve seen the Netherlands open and shut within days of their Freedom Day.

“And, of course, we are seeing what is largely a very significant experiment occurring in the United Kingdom as we see now, and we wish them the best.”

In fact, during an hour long press conference, twice he told us what the situation was in the Netherlands.

And he’s right. Countries across the world are facing far bigger Delta outbreaks than Australia is right now.

The Netherlands is averaging more than 10,000 cases a day over the past week. Numbers are worse in the likes of the UK, as he correctly pointed out.

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But the one comparison the PM failed to make was how Australia’s vaccination rollout is going compared to other countries.

It’s fair to say it isn’t pretty.

Of the 38 OECD nations, we’re ranked last for the percentage of people fully vaccinated.

We’re two months behind schedule, with just under 15 per cent of eligible Australians fully vaccinated. It’s just 36 per cent of eligible Australians who have had one dose.

Last year we were seen at the envy of the world for our handling of the pandemic, but questions need to be asked what the PM has done since then.

While other countries were frantically trying to secure enough vaccine doses, the PM was telling us it “isn’t a race”.

It seems like the PM thought strong border controls would be enough for us to get through the pandemic.

But the Delta strain has changed all that and now we’re the ones playing catch up. Turns out that maybe it was just geography that helped Australia so much last year.

Admittedly, the Prime Minister did concede the rollout hasn’t been up to scratch.

“We’ve had significant challenges with this program as many countries have, but what matters is how you respond to them,” he said.

“What matters is how you fix the things that need to be fixed and get the program doing what it needs to be doing and hitting the vaccination rates it needs to hit to ensure that we can get to where we need to be, where we want to be.”

But just how the Prime Minister fixes those issues remains unknown.

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The PM owned up for his failings in the vaccine rollout.Source:News Corp Australia

He announced we reached a vaccine milestone, with a million doses delivered in the past seven days.

“We’re at another almost record day today in the total number of vaccines delivered in a day and that is at 174,589,” he said.

“That’s what we have to keep on doing to hit the marks and put Australia in the best possible position to be in to combat the Delta strain.”

But we’re still a long way from herd immunity.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation advice last month that Pfizer was the preferred vaccine for people aged 16-59 years has made millions of Australians vaccine snobs.

People regardless of their age are turning their nose up at AstraZeneca.

It hasn’t been helped by state leaders discouraging people under 60 years from getting AstraZeneca.

But the poor handling of the vaccine rollout by the Morrison government has played a big part in the low vaccination rates.

It’s something the PM was willing to finally admit towards the end of his press conference.

“I know Australians would like the vaccination program to be further advanced than it is now,” he said before confirming we were two months behind schedule.

“Sure, there is going to be plenty of critics and hindsight. They will have various motivations for doing it, but what Australians I think want from me is to make sure we make up that ground, we hit these marks we are hitting and that we are hitting these marks.”

“I take responsibility for the problems that we have had but I am also taking responsibility for the solutions we’re putting in place and the vaccination rates that we are now achieving.”

The PM can’t win when he talks to Australia. Critics have said he’s been missing in action while half of Australia is in lockdown.

Now he’s talked and people are saying, he’s not doing enough.

But today the PM did take responsibility for the rollout. Now he needs to stop comparing us to other countries and get more Australians vaccinated.

Vaccinating against Covid-19 is the only way for Australians to get their normal lives back, but as a nation we’re struggling.

News.com.au’s Our Best Shot campaign answers your questions about the Covid-19 vaccine roll out.

It’s fair to say the vaccine rollout has confused Australians. We’ll cut through the spin and give you clear information so you can make an informed decision.

Oliver Murray is the editor of news.com.au

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