Australia has fallen considerably short of its initial vaccine targets due to difficulties importing stocks, including a 3.1 million dose deficit in AstraZeneca vaccine imports, Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted on Tuesday.
In January, the Morrison government set a goal of delivering 4 million first doses of Covid-19 vaccines to vulnerable Australians and frontline workers by early April. On Tuesday, Morrison acknowledged that only 854,983 doses had been administered as of April 5.
The Morrison government has since revised its vaccine target, now hoping to give every Australian who wants one a first dose by the end of October.
“Australia’s challenges have been a supply issue. It’s plain and simple, ”Morrison said at a press conference in Canberra.
“There were over 3 million doses from overseas that were contracted but never arrived. And that obviously resulted in an inability to get another 3 million doses and distribute them through the network, ”Morrison said.
The 3.1 million doses are all of the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to chief medical officer Michael Kidd in an interview Tuesday with CNN affiliate Sky News Australia.
The Australian government has not specified where the 3.1 million doses of AstraZeneca were to be imported from, or why they were not delivered. However, Morrison told reporters on Tuesday: “We are all aware of the situation in Europe and other countries which has thwarted this offer.”
A little more context: In March, Italy admitted that it had used EU powers to prevent AstraZeneca from exporting 250,000 doses to Australia.
In February, the Australian government negotiated deals with Pfizer for 10 million doses, AstraZeneca for 53.8 million doses and Novavax for 51 million doses, all to be delivered by the end of 2021.
Australia hopes to fill any shortfall in imported doses with locally produced doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which it says has 2.5 million pending batch approval by the drugs regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration.