Frustration is mounting in Australia over low vaccination rates and AstraZeneca’s changing jab advice after outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant sent more parts of the country into lockdown.
The outbreaks have risen to about 150 cases and have forced closures in four major cities and renewed restrictions in several others.
Queensland imposed a three-day quick shutdown on its capital Brisbane and some neighboring regions from Tuesday night. Perth, the capital of Western Australia, began a four-day lockdown on Tuesday, joining Sydney and Darwin.
While the country has suffered 910 deaths and fewer than 31,0000 cases over the course of the pandemic, a fraction of the 181 million cases and 3.9 million deaths worldwide, success has been hard-won. . Australia closed its borders in March 2020 and has strict two-week hotel quarantine requirements for international arrivals. Melbourne, in Victoria, suffered one of the tightest and longest lockdowns in the world in 2020.
But with less than 5% of the population fully vaccinated, Australia lags far behind almost all other developed countries, fueling fears that these sacrifices will be wasted if vaccinations are not dramatically stepped up.
On Monday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison expanded the guidance on the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying that those under the age of 40, rather than 60, could receive the vaccine after consulting their GP.
Australians under 40 have so far been excluded from the Covid vaccine launch as a result of concerns about blood clotting and vaccine shortages in addition to locally produced AstraZeneca injections, in which the government has invested heavily. .
However, the president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Omar Khorshid, said on Tuesday that he had been surprised by the move and did not support the prime minister’s announcement.
“It took us by surprise, and it is difficult to know how to take that announcement because I think there will be a limited number of people to take it, since they would go against the expert Atagi [Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] recommendation, ”Khorshid told Guardian Australia on Tuesday.
Queensland Health Director Jeannette Young also emphasized that Atagi’s position remained unchanged, that “people under 60 should preferably get Pfizer.”
On Tuesday, Victoria State Prime Minister Daniel Andrews called for even tighter restrictions on international arrivals, suggesting that the current limit be cut in half over the next three months to reduce the risk of further lockdowns and give the government Australian longer to increase vaccination rates.
While more than 20 million Australians, or roughly 80% of the population, faced lockdown and restrictions (for Darwin, the first lockdown since the pandemic began), new Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was fined $ 200 (£ 110) for non-compliance Wear a mask inside a gas station.
A “super spreader event” that has led to the infection of several people points to the effectiveness of vaccines and how a more effective acquisition and deployment strategy would have avoided the latest restrictions.
After a party held in west Sydney, 24 of the attendees tested positive for coronavirus. Only six people did not, and they were the only six people at the party who had been vaccinated.
The first known local infection from the main outbreak was a Sydney driver in his 60s carrying an international airline crew but had not been vaccinated.
The man told Channel Nine that even though his job put him in contact with foreign travelers, he had been afraid of receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine due to a history of blood clots in his family.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism