Prime Minister Scott Morrison has lashed out at the suggestion Covid-19 lockdowns would not be needed if the federal government's vaccine rollout had gone according to plan.
NSW is currently in its second week of a now three-week lockdown as it battles a concerning surge in Delta variant Covid-19 cases, bringing the nation's botched vaccine rollout under the spotlight once again.
However addressing reporters on Thursday, Mr Morrison said it was "utterly false" to suggest Australia could have opted for a different approach to a surge in restrictions if more vaccines had been administered.
Mr Morrison said it was impossible for the nation to have reached a level of vaccination at this stage seen in the UK – a nation which is now opening up after enduring months of restrictions amid a catastrophic pandemic.
"None of [our most optimistic scenarios from the national vaccination plan] put Australia in a position where a suppression strategy could have been lifted at any time, at least by the end of October," he said.
"So the suggestion that somehow there was a vaccination rate, that would have put us in a different position right now to what was planned last year, is simply not true."
Mr Morrison suggested if the AstraZeneca jab was not subject to age recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), Australia's vaccine rollout would be in much stronger position in terms of jabs administered.
"Let's not forget that 44 million UK residents have been successfully vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine," he said.
Unable to produce Pfizer vaccines on Australian soil, the nation is reliant on shipments from overseas. While signing up for 40 million doses, there has been serious supply chain issues hampering states' rollouts of the jab.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has linked his state's extended lockdown to supply issues of the vaccine – a suggestion Mr Morrison strongly refuted.
An extra 150,000 of both AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines will be made available for NSW in light of its ongoing outbreak, which peaked at 38 local cases on Thursday.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says he is hopeful of further Pfizer allocations in the coming weeks.
Mr Morrison said if everything goes to plan, the rollout will be wrapped up only two months behind initial projections and that all adults will have been be offered a jab by the end of the year.
But Mr Morrison said Australia was not on the radar of the US for assistance as Australia's death rate was far lower than other countries.
More people in Sydney and surrounds will be eligible for $325 to $500 weekly federal disaster payments in the third week of lockdown with the $10,000 liquid asset test to be dropped.
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