A sign for a COVID-19 vaccination clinic is seen in Melbourne, Australia. File/Reuters
Australia’s national cabinet will begin meeting twice a week from Monday to help mobilise the country’s battle against COVID-19 as authorities consider mass vaccinations to ramp up its coronavirus inoculation efforts.
The federal government and states will discuss setting up mass vaccination centres from as early as June for people above 50, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday, when the country would have moved to its next immunisation phase.
“We will have AstraZeneca vaccines that we believe we might be able to ramp up the pace of vaccination for those aged between 50 and 70. That’s millions of Australians,” Morrison told reporters in Perth.
Australia earlier this week abandoned a target to provide at least one vaccine dose to the near 26 million population by year-end after restricting the rollout of its favoured AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 50 over clotting concerns.
Findings by Europe’s drug regulator of rare cases of blood clots among some adult recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine were a major blow for Australia as the country had based its immunisation drive largely on that inoculation, with plans to manufacture 50 million doses locally.
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Australian officials overhauled the programme in response, doubling an earlier Pfizer order to 40 million shots, which would be delivered by the end of the year, mostly for its adult population under 50.
Australia created a national cabinet of federal, state and territory leaders early last year to coordinate measures to combat the pandemic.
Morrison said the return to more frequent meetings of the national cabinet was necessary to address “serious challenges” caused by patchy international vaccine supplies and changing medical advice.
The return to twice weekly meetings, the same frequency as at the peak of the crisis in Australia last year, would continue for the “foreseeable future,” Morrison said.
Australia has fared much better than many other developed countries during the pandemic, with just over 29,400 COVID-19 cases and 910 deaths.
No new cases have been reported on most days this year and officials have swiftly contained small outbreaks, but the country’s vaccination programme has hit major roadblocks.
About 1.3 million people have been vaccinated as of Tuesday, far short of the 4 million pledged by end-March, after the European Union blocked AstraZeneca vaccine exports in the wake of the drugmaker’s failure to meet shipment pledge to the bloc.
Trade Minister Dan Tehan is due to travel to Europe this week to seek the release of about 3 million doses of previously promised AstraZeneca vaccines for Australia.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government's modelling revealed the state would require its highest number of intensive care beds in early October, with "additional pressure on the system" in the next few weeks.
The UAE has been playing a stellar role in not just containing the spread of COVID-19 but in being a leader as far as vaccination initiatives go. The recently launched Wellness on Wheels (WoW) drive which is providing COVID-19 vaccination
A year into the pandemic, infection rates are falling. Hospitals are quieter; morgues are emptier. Emboldened by vaccines, we’re dropping our masks and stepping closer. Slowly we’re reopening indoor dining, theaters, museums and schools.
Across Britain, some people who have been counting down the days to their first COVID-19 jab are suddenly suffering doubts – among them my wife, Rachel, who was due to have it on Tuesday. The suspension of the roll out of the Oxford/AstraZeneca
Sources familiar with the details of the accident said that it occurred on Monday afternoon, as a result of a malfunction in the bus's brakes, which led it to collide with a bridge, according to local media.
Mariam Al Kaabi, UAE Ambassador to the Arab Republic of Egypt and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the Arab League, represented the UAE during the signing ceremony.
They prayed to Allah Almighty to perpetuate the blessings of security and stability, and to revisit the fasting month with more goodness, progress, and prosperity for the UAE and its people.
Sheikh Mohammed said on Twitter, “Today, I was briefed, accompanied by my brother, the President of the State, may God preserve him, on the ongoing preparations in the country to host the COP28 Conference of the Parties, in which 70,000 people from 198 countries are expected to participate. Our national team is ready. Protect the planet.”