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Marshall not buying in to vaccine rollout blame game

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Premier Steven Marshall has refused to blame the Federal Government’s vaccine program for South Australia’s current plight, saying “there’s no plausible scenario where we would have not had a lockdown now” under the planned rollout.

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However, Marshall conceded the vaccination program had been compromised by mRNA “availability constraint”, as the New South Wales deputy premier today pointed the finger at the Commonwealth rollout for “letting us down”.

NSW deputy premier John Barilaro told ABC News Breakfast this morning: “Honestly, I think the vaccination rollout has let us down.”

“We’re 18 months into the pandemic – you don’t wait till the end of the crisis to start the vaccination,” he said.

“When you look across the globe, vaccination became part of managing COVID [whereas in Australia] we got on top of it… and then there was a lag to vaccinate.”

He said current demand outstripped supply, saying: “It’s a real issue for the federal government that they promised more – and hopefully by the end of the week that promise will come to fruition.”

However, asked today whether the Commonwealth had any culpability for SA’s seven-day lockdown, Marshall rejected the suggestion.

“We’re rolling out the vaccination [program] as quickly as we possibly can, with the constraint we have around the mRNA vaccines – both Pfizer and Moderna, which is the next one to come in,” he said.

“But there was never a scenario where we’d have sufficient vaccination quantities through at this time of the year.

“We were always talking about much later in the year.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been politically haunted by his earlier claims that the vaccine rollout was “not a race” – a phrase he told Adelaide radio this morning had been weaponised by political opponents.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the comments that both [Health boss Professor Brendan] Murphy and I made at that time have been used in the way they have,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“We were talking about how cautious we needed to be when it came to the approval of vaccines for use in Australia [and] I don’t think anyone should have suggested we should have cut corners on that.

“But, look, I know how politics works and I know how people use things out of context about what you say, and that’s what’s happened, and that’s unfortunate.”

However, asked whether he accepted the national vaccination program had been less than ideal, Morrison said: “Yeah, we’ve had our problems, I’ve openly confessed that.”

“And some of those problems, many of them, have been outside our control, but the issue is you get on top of them and you fix them,” he said.

“That’s why we’re now hitting dosage rates of a million a week, just shy of that… and that’s why we’re now on track to ensure that by the end of the year that everyone who is seeking to have a vaccine would have had that opportunity.”

Morrison again blamed delays on early supply problems and multiple updates to expert advice on the AstraZeneca jab, describing the ATAGI recommendations as “a big problem”.

But he said the rollout was ramping up significantly, with more supplies and vaccination centres being added.

He said that had “probably now put us around about two months behind where we’d hoped to have been”.

“But we’ve been pulling back that that figure quite significantly over the last few months, and we’ll be well over four million vaccine doses delivered this month,” he said.

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