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Australian Prime Minister apologized on Thursday for the rollout of the glacial vaccine in the country het Sydney registered a record jump in new coronavirus infections.
Scott Morrison faces intense public pressure to improve vaccine coveragegraad currently languishing at around 11 percent, one of the lowest percentages of any wealthy nation.
After months of bragging about his “gold standard” pandemic response and insisting the vaccine rollout was “not a race,” Morrison bowed to critics.
“I’m sorry we weren’t able to get the points we hoped for at the beginning of this year. Of course I am,” he said.
“I take responsibility for the vaccination program. I also take responsibility for the challenges we have faced. Obviously some things are within our control, others are not.”
His comments came as authorities in detained Sydney warned residents to brace for a spike in infections and long-term restrictions.
The state of New South Wales reported 124 new cases, a record for a current outbreak that is spreading rapidly across the vast country.
“I expect the number of cases to rise even higher,” Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian warned, citing the large proportion of people who were not isolated while contagious.
“I can’t underline what a dire situation we are in right now,” she said, girding the city’s five million residents for more bad news.
Sydney has been locked down for nearly a month, but there seems to be little chance of home orders being lifted as planned by the end of this month.
The restrictions — which have closed most stores, businesses and classrooms — may have prevented a tidal wave of cases, but so far haven’t stopped the outbreak.
“Until we have fully vaccinated enough of our population, we will live with a certain level of limitations and that will depend on how quickly we can overcome the severity of the current outbreak,” Berejiklian said.
About 18 months after the pandemic, compliance with the latest lockdown rules has been patchy and there is widespread anger at the government’s response.
Australia invested heavily in the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is now only recommended for Australians over the age of 60 due to fears of blood clotting.
Health officials complain that Australia has been “flooded” with the AstraZeneca vaccine, while not expecting much of a large supply of the Pfizer vaccine before the end of the year.
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