In a swap deal, Australia claims it has obtained a further four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the United Kingdom. The extra immunizations, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will help his country emerge from its lockdown sooner.
Due to outbreaks in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra, around half of Australia’s population is currently on lockdown.
Under the terms of the agreement, Australia will deliver the same number of doses to the UK later this year. Following criticism of a delayed rollout, Australia has increased immunization rates in recent weeks.
Pfizer dosages will leave for Australia on Saturday, according to Mr. Morrison. On Friday, he told reporters, “This will enable us to move forward greatly the potential for Australia to open up again.” Mr. Morrison’s administration has been chastised for failing to get additional Pfizer doses early on and for failing to adequately address public concerns about AstraZeneca’s vaccine causing uncommon clotting.
Currently, just 36% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, which is among the lowest in the OECD. However, Australia is now providing dosages at a faster rate than the UK and US.
The United Kingdom, which began in July, is now approaching 80% coverage for over-16s. Poland and Singapore have also agreed to exchange vaccines with Australia. When adult coverage objectives reach 70%, it hopes to ease out of lockdowns, with plans to reopen schools, workplaces, and state borders. That may happen around the middle of October, based on current rates.
When vaccine levels reach 80%, Australia expects to reopen to vaccinated visitors from recognized safe countries, such as the United Kingdom. Gladys Berejiklian, the Premier of New South Wales, says she wants Sydney to be open to visitors by November.
Plans to reopen, however, have sparked debate, particularly among the majority of Australian states that do not currently have any Covid cases. In light of the existing case rates in Sydney, Queensland and Western Australia have stated that they are unlikely to reopen their borders. On Friday, Sydney reported almost 1,400 new cases and 12 deaths.