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Chinese state media has scolded Canberra over its botched Covid-19 vaccine rollout, labelling it a "national embarrassment".
The China Daily is the latest publication to take a swipe at Australia over the failures in the rollout, and one that will undoubtedly be particularly painful for the federal government considering the ongoing tensions between the two countries.
While the state-run newspaper stressed the opinion piece from a former staff member at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology was "not necessarily the view of the China Daily" its publication in one of Beijing's nationalistic mouthpieces speaks volumes.
Australia was once lauded as one of the success stories of the pandemic for its ability to suppress the virus, however our fall from grace as the Delta variant set in has been nothing short of disastrous.
And Chinese media has relished in pointing that out, with the article lambasting Canberra's "directionless policy".
"Australia has seen public policy failures in the past, but none have been as disastrous as the country's COVID-19 vaccination rollout," it said.
The opinion piece says the federal government has displayed an "incompetency" in its vaccine rollout since "the very beginning".
Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed last year the vaccine rollout was not a race and Australia would take a diligent approach in approving vaccines, in stark contrast to nations such as the UK who had no choice to push through their rollouts due to soaring infections.
However as the highly-infectious Delta variant posed a threat not yet seen in Australia, the largely unvaccinated population has been left exposed and vulnerable.
To date, just 17.2 per cent of Australians over 16 have received both doses. Worryingly, just 38.4 per cent of those over 70 have had both jabs.
Australia banking everything on Pfizer vaccine
And while the government has previously been accused of prioritising its AstraZeneca contracts which have proven disastrous after confidence in the jab plummeted following the emergence of a rare blood-clotting side-effect, the article says it is now failing by refusing to look beyond the Pfizer jab.
"After problems with the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, the government has put all its eggs in one basket, Pfizer," it said.
"That deal constitutes a compromise of national sovereignty, since there is no possibility of producing this vaccine in Australia, supposedly a fundamental criterion outlined by the government for any vaccine deal. Right now, the nation seems to be held hostage by a consortium of big pharma companies, government, media and foreign missions — and the people are paying the price."
Professor Nikolai Petrovsky of the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University too questioned the federal government's insistence on offering just one contract to manufacture vaccines in Australia, earlier telling Yahoo News Australia it was a "bad decision" for Mr Morrison to "place so much emphasis on [the AstraZeneca vaccine] in the first place".
The Department of Health told Yahoo News Australia at the time the choice of which vaccines to invest in was not political and driven by the Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group.
International media highly critical of Australia's rollout
The China Daily article comes just a day after a similar editorial featured in the US's Wall Street Journal slamming the government's pandemic choices.
In a guest contribution, James Morrow, the Daily Telegraph's federal political editor and co-host of Sky News' Outsiders, and notably a staunch critic of the nation's Covid suppression strategy of late, branded Australia's response as "farcical".
And the UK's media was just as unrelenting.
The Telegraph spoke of Australia's "nightmare", quoting former secretary of the Australian Health Department Stephen Duckett who called the rollout "shambolic".
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