United Kingdom

Scott Morrison admits he should have ordered more Pfizer jabs last year

Scott Morrison has said he can't guarantee that Australians will be living freely by Christmas and has admitted he should have ordered more Pfizer vaccines last year.

In a press conference on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said 'lockdowns become a thing of the past' when enough people are vaccinated and hoped Australians 'will be living life differently at Christmas'.

But on Thursday morning, Mr Morrison warned he can't guarantee lockdowns won't be needed next year to control the spread of Covid-19.

'No one can give those guarantees, Neil, because the virus is unpredictable,' he told 3aw broadcaster Neil Mitchell during a radio interview. 

Earlier Mr Morrison told the Today show that the highly contagious Delta strain of the virus, which spawned in India in April, requires tougher restrictions than previous strains to control.

'The Delta strain is incredibly virulent and there is no country in the world that is not struggling,' he said.

'All around the world countries are wrestling with this and we have learnt a lot in recent weeks.

'Where the Delta strain hits you have to act quickly and we need to take that and move forward as quickly as we can.'   

During his morning media blitz, Mr Morrison was also grilled about the slow vaccine rollout and admitted he has made mistakes.

Mr Morrison warned he can't guarantee lockdowns won't be needed next year to control the spread of Covid-19. Pictured: Police patrol Bondi Beach during lockdown

Only 16.7 per cent of Australians over 16 are fully jabbed, compared with 71.1 per cent of eligible Britons, 65.2 per cent of eligible Canadians and 49.4 per cent of eligible Americans.

The rollout has been hampered by supply delays and changing health advice over the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has left the government scrambling to bring in more Pfizer jabs. 

In July 2020, the US ordered 200 million doses of Pfizer, the UK ordered 90 million and Canada ordered 20 million.

But Australia didn't order any until November, when it requested just 10 million doses of the highly effective jab. 

In April the government increased the order to 20 million and doubled it to 40 million in June - but critics say this quantity should have been ordered far earlier. 

When asked if the government secured a deal fast enough, Mr Morrison told Sunrise host Natalie Barr: 'We went from 10 million to 20 million to 40 million... now it's just about getting the job done.

Only 16.7 per cent of Australians over 16 are fully jabbed, compared with 71.1 per cent of eligible Britons. Pictured: Queues at Sydney's Homebush vaccination hub

'Very late though,' she said before Mr Morrison admitted: 'No country gets everything right and the vaccination program is hitting the marks we need it to hit now.

'We just gotta focus forward and get this job done, Nat,' he said.

On July 9, the Prime Minister announced a four stage plan to get Australia back to normal, with each step to be triggered when the vaccination rate hits a certain percentage. 

The percentages required have been calculated by modelling experts at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and handed to the government.

They will be discussed at National Cabinet on Friday and are expected to be publicly released early next month. 

What are the four phases of opening up? 

1. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)

Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; lockdowns and state border closures as a last resort; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet   

2. Post vaccination phase (when an as-yet unannounced percentage of Aussies are jabbed, expected early next year)

No lockdowns or state borders except for 'extreme circumstances'; caps for unvaccinated arrivals doubled to 6,070; home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; capped entry for students and economic visa holders  

3. Consolidation phase (date not announced)

Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; vaccinated people exempted from domestic restrictions; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out 

4. Final phase (date not announced)

Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival 

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