Australia falls short of Covid-19 vaccine target after EU blocks jab shipments

Australia falls short of Covid-19 vaccine target after EU blocks jab shipments

Prime Minister Scott Morrison blamed the European Union (EU) on Wednesday for Australia’s slow vaccine rollout, claiming its blocking of jab shipments to Canberra has caused the country to fall far behind its inoculation target.

While Australia has managed to domestically tackle the coronavirus through border restrictions and internal lockdowns, it has, so far, only managed to administer 670,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines, far below the government’s goal of 4 million by March 31.

Addressing the missed target, Morrison said the government had abandoned the initial goal months ago when it became clear that the EU’s decision to block shipments was “obviously going to impact the early success.”

Currently, the EU has blocked more than 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines that were headed to help the situation in Papua New Guinea and at least a quarter of a million jabs that were set to arrive in Australia.

While Canberra was initially understanding of the EU’s decision, due to rising case numbers across Europe, the continued restrictions on vaccine exports have created frustration, with Finance Minister Simon Birmingham attacking Brussels over its decision to “tear up the rule book.”

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Morrison has faced mounting criticism in Australia. Detractors cite his comments made early in the pandemic when he claimed Canberra was “at the front of the queue” for vaccines, and his target of fully vaccinating all adults by October, which now looks increasingly unlikely.

The Australian prime minister has defended himself from these attacks, even from members of his own party, claiming, “it’s not a race” and dismissing those who want to “play politics with vaccine and distribution.”

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