Australia’s prime minister blamed restricted vaccine supply from Europe for his country’s halting COVID-19 inoculation efforts, as he faced growing public frustration over the sluggish rollout.
Scott Morrison said vaccine shortages and “strict export controls” introduced by the European Commission meant Australia received just 700,000 of a contracted 3.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
His government has fallen far behind its vaccine rollout schedule.
It had initially pledged to administer four million doses by the end of March, but had instead managed about 920,000 shots by Wednesday – drawing increasing criticism that Morrison tried to address at a hastily organized press conference.
Australia has received around 870,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which it is administering to frontline workers. Authorities had been counting on imported and locally made AstraZeneca vaccine doses to cover most of the population.