There is concern after the number of vaccinations struggled to reach a quarter of the Federal Government’s target of 4 million jabs by the end of this month.
Adjunct Professor Bill Bowtell, from the University of NSW, told Today other countries are pulling ahead of Australia.
“Yesterday in the United States in one day 3.4 million doses were administered. That’s getting on for about the entire adult population of Australia every week,” he said.
And even developing countries that lack the health services Australia has are making progress, Prof Bowtell said.
Public health expert Bill Bowtell said Australia is in a race against time to vaccinate its population against coronavirus.
“Developing countries like Bangladesh, Rwanda, Senegal all of whom have much worse societal problems than we do are ahead of us.”
Prof Bowtell said it was essential for the Federal Government to take a cold hard look at the vaccination rollout.
“We have to ask some very serious questions about why we are falling behind, we have got to correct those problems with a laser-like focus from the prime minister and the government.”
Prof Bowtell said GPs and other frontline health workers were well positioned to administer vaccinations but suffered a lack of regular supplies.
“I know in Port Stephens they were geared up already to receive 5000 doses a week. And what they got last week was 50. Now, that’s just not good enough.”
“The doctors, the GPs, the pharmacies, all ready to go, but they are being let down by a failure to commit to targets, to plan and to deliver. So we have to do better with procurement.”
Prof Bowtell said supplies should increase when pharmaceutical company CSL begins producing the AstraZeneca vaccine at its Melbourne plant. Earlier this week, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved the release of more than 832,000 doses of the local AstraZeneca vaccine.
But Australia still faced a “race against time” to innoculate the population against COVID-19 while cases in the country remained very low, warned Prof Bowtell.
“We have zero-zero but people have mistaken this momentary advantage for the long term solution. And it’s not. We need vaccinations. We need to have an entire population vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Prof Bowtell said authorities should utilise sporting grounds and other public facilities as well as introducing drive-through COVID-19 jabs to ramp up vaccination numbers.
And he warned it was also essential to curb the alarming rise in coronavirus cases in neighbouring Papua New Guinea before it spilled into Far North Queensland.
“We can’t be out of woods until the entire world is. Papua New Guinea particularly. So yes, we run a big risk of falling behind.”