Morrison Government vaccine rollout all but collapses

God, what a schmozzle. After PM Morrison yesterday reassured Australians that there was no reason to suspend the Astra Zeneca vaccine, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has come down with recommendations of the complete opposite:

  • 4-6 people per million will suffer thrombosis triggered by the AZ vaccine.
  • ATAGI has recommended that the Pfizer vaccine be preferred to AZ for people under 50.
  • Its second recommendation is that under 50’s only be given AZ in cases where the “benefit clearly outweighs the risk for that individual’s circumstances”.
  • Third, those already with one dose of AZ are fine to get the second.
  • Lastly, new consent guidelines will be drawn up to convey the risks to recipients.

In short, the vaccine rollout has all but collapsed. We don’t have any other vaccines to substitute. Novavax supplies are not expected until Q4. We have purchased 20m doses of the Pfizer vaccine but when they arrive is anybody’s guess. By the end of “2021” is all Health Minister Greg Hunt would confirm. It will be a drip feed.

There are no other deals so the entire undertaking looks like being delayed six months. Herd immunity is somewhere off in the foggy distance of mid-2022. We need a new supply deal immediately.

What can I say? The AZ vaccine is a sound product. Bloomie has a wrap of how it reached this impasse through mismanagement. It is clear that governments were rightly circumspect about AZ early on, given it had almost no experience with vaccines and it buggered up its trial results. This is particularly important when assessing the Morrison Government’s procurement policy. This passage is a bit of killer:

Some potential for dysfunction was baked into the process from the start. By the end of April, when it reached the final partnership agreement with Astra, Oxford had already begun human trials, whose protocols would become quite complex. It had large Phase III trials set to start in the U.K. and Brazil, along with a smaller Phase I-II in South Africa. For the U.S. Phase III trial, Astra took charge, designing a straightforward two-arm protocol.

…Out of the public eye, though, the scientists at Oxford realized they’d miscalculated the concentration of the vaccine, which had led some Phase III trial participants to receive a half-dose. Around the same time, the team decided to move from a one-shot to a two-shot regimen after seeing signs it would produce better protection, settling on a dosing interval of about four weeks…some U.S. officials heard about the changes to the protocol and thought, “What are these guys doing?” according to a former senior Trump administration figure. The moves undermined American confidence in the British developers—just as the NIH was working with AstraZeneca on setting up the U.S. Phase III trial.

This was all transpiring in April/May 2020. The Morrison Government did not commit to the AZ vaccine until late August. A few weeks after:

…American officials had soured on the AstraZeneca vaccine, safe in the assumption they had Pfizer and Moderna in the bag, with Johnson & Johnson not far behind. “AstraZeneca looked like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight,” says the former senior Trump administration figure. “It was almost an attitude of: If they make it, they make it; if they don’t, they don’t. But we’re not going to go out of our way to make AstraZeneca successful. That’s for sure. They had fumbled the ball so many times.”

In other words, all of the AZ bumblings were known to public officials worldwide and the clear-thinking were already hedging their bets with procurement policies that spread the risk among a range of providers and products.

This is the major failing of the Morrison Government. Why on earth did it bet everything on one provider and one vaccine? The very one that had the least experience and demonstrably the most troubled development process? We have pointed out AZ’s political connections but the agreement between Oxford and AZ prohibited selling the jab for a profit anyway. Did the Morrison Government simply choose the cheapest option and damn the lifeboats?

All we can say for certain is that Australia will now fall a year and billions upon billions of dollars behind other developed economies coming out of the pandemic. Tourism and education are screwed and lockdowns will continue at pace, especially as travel bubbles and desperado state-based international student importation schemes ramp up.

After years of snout-in-the-trough outsourcing and corruption, the cause of the debacle may simply be that the Coalition has forgotten how to govern, via Crikey:

As Crikey has been detailing, international consulting firms are reaping tens of millions of dollars from the federal government to advise on the vaccine rollout, with lucrative contracts continuing to be handed to the likes of the scandal-plagued McKinsey.

What exactly the consulting firms are doing, however, is shrouded in mystery: like CSL’s production figures, the government has refused to explain what exactly it is getting for its tens of millions.

In comparison, both the NSW and the Western Australian governments say they are not using consultants as part of their vaccine rollout planning and implementation. NSW, of course, has Australia’s largest population and health system, while Western Australia must coordinate a rollout across a huge territory to reach rural and remote communities.

Whatever the consultants are doing, it plainly did not include advice about how to manage the risk of countries imposing export controls on vaccine supply [or other risks] — something the government was explicitly warned about last year and which should have been obvious to anyone observing the responses of European governments to the pandemic.

…It is also a department that, as a result of repeated rounds of funding cuts, is ever more reliant on consultants: its spending on consultants has ballooned from $38 million in 2013-14 to $66.1 million in 2019-20.

In the good times, poor policy passes as adequate and average policy looks positively celestial. In the tough times, average policy becomes onerous and poor policy is absolutely disastrous.

The chickens of Australia’s ruinous political culture have finally come home to roost.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. I’ve long thought that the PTB don’t want us to leave this island. No international arrivals so how do we keep the economy humming and house prices high? Easy, ban everybody here (unless you’re rich and famous) from leaving the country, and stretch this out by restricting access to a decent vaccine so no other country accepts us. We are a captive market and they’re trying to destroy whatever little resistance there was by those lonely outnumbered souls who actually felt that borrowing so much money for an aging flood affected boring little place was actually not the prudent, sensible and even sane thing to do.

    • Cynical snake

      I feel you massively overestimate the competency of this government.
      That is playing chess many moves ahead.
      Scummo’s response to the current behaviour of lib party in parliament shows he can’t even play 1 move ahead.

    • Torchwood1979

      LOL you think the Scotty from Marketing Government is even smart enough to pull this masterplan off? They’re morons, self absorbed morons and nothing more.

  2. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    “After years of outsourcing and corruption, the cause of the debacle may be as simple as the Coalition has forgotten how to govern”

    Just another predictable outcome from the same Neoliberal, Global Plutocratic phenomenon.
    All designed to circumvent Democracy.
    That cnt,…No such thing as Society,… Thatcher said that to get rid of popular Public Services the first thing you need to do is Defund them and make them dysfunctional so as to minimise resistance to their eventual privatisation.
    The privatisation of government itself was always going to come next.
    Democracy was good while it lasted but now a return to a kind of Techno feudalism awaits.

  3. MathiasMEMBER

    It’ll hurt the Boomers more then it’ll hurt me.

    Let Covid spread. Let Australia go into lockdowns yet again. Let many Elderly die. Let Australias Economy collapse.

    There’s no negotiating with Boomers. Just let them die and we can can ask questions later.

    I dont know how you come back from this anyway. Boomers have caused too much damage.

  4. MathiasMEMBER

    I had to laugh this morning on Sunrise.

    The bloke said, ” As per your request, I got some photos of Queensland. “. It was turned into a joke.

    Now, dont get me wrong. There’s nothing special about Queensland ( or Northern Territory, Southern Australia, Western Australia or Tasmania )… but in this world of Tribalism… it sort of suggests to me that NSW and VIC have hijacked Australia and have become completely neglectful that the rest of Australia actually exists.

    Queensland seems to be a representation that a Country hijacked by two states, is totally neglecting the rest of the Country while it pretends to act in the National Interests.

    You want evidence of Australian Tribalism… lets start with the States NSW and VIC neglecting the rest of the entire Country.

    There’s an arrogance in this Country that only two States run it… and that the rest of Australia doesnt even exist.

    Queensland cops the blame all the time but I dont think this is a Queensland problem. NSW and VIC has a problem and Queensland is pointing it out. NSW and VIC are neglecting the rest of Australia.

    Maybe Sunrise ( and a lot of NSW / VIC services ) should disappear until it can learn to read a map and knows what the word NATIONAL means:

    It means All of Australia and not just two states. This isnt a Queensland problem. NSW and VIC have become a threat to Australia and in my opinion, need to be given a Geography Lesson.

    NSW and VIC are Tribes.. and most of the time, they arent acting in the NATIONAL interests. NSW is especially terrible at this. Someone needs to remind them of there place in this Country.

    Sunrise… a ‘National TV Broadcast’ has to be reminded of what ‘National’ means. If they are seriously that stupid, then take them off the air.

    • Cynical snake

      “There’s an arrogance in this Country that only two States run it… and that the rest of Australia doesnt even exist.”
      Democracy is merely dictatorship by the most numerous, rather than the most powerful.
      While vic/nsw have more than 1/2 the population of australia they will have more than half the seats in federal parliament.

  5. MathiasMEMBER

    Victorians arent so bad in Queensland. They go about there lives.

    New South Wales is like an aggressive attacker. They are competitive, arrogant and think they own everything ( probably because its how they live in there own State ). Those a$$holes come to Queensland with the intention to walk all over it. A form of arrogance that they own the damn place and people who’ve lived in the state for years arent Australians but just idiot sheep. Queenslands arent Human. They are just docile cattle to be harvested and walked over.

    Victorians are just wierd but they dont hurt anybody. NSW is a legitimate threat.

    One look at the relationship between QLD and NSW and its clearly evident that NSW has tried to call the shots in every encounter. NSW see’s itself as the Big Brother that looks down upon everyone else, tells QLD how to runs its affairs and gets angry everytime QLD decides to have a mind of its own. Even at the State level, you can see the extent to which NSW are bullys.

    Im just waiting for the day Australia declares War on NSW and drives them from the Country.

    Im compassionate towards good outcomes. However, if you call ‘Bullying’, ‘Drug Trafficking’, ‘Sexual Slavery’, ‘Bikie Gangs’ and ‘Criminal Enterprises’ to be good outcomes… then you must have rocks in your head. Im still trying to figure out what contribution NSW makes to the rest of Australia other then being a State Criminal Enterprise. It practically contributes nothing to this entire Nation and as far as Im concerned, Australia needs to build a wall around the damn thing.

    Maybe its time Queensland, Victora and South Australia join forces and build a great wall around NSW. I promise that the money spent doing this would see Crime and Corruption fall across Australia threefold.

    Im convinced… NSW… is nothing but a Criminal State… and to shut it down would be no great loss to the Australian Nation.

    Its basically the Drug Capital of Australia.

    Australian Police should be searching every single car that comes out of NSW for Drug Searches. I guarantee Drugs in Australia would fall by 80%. You’d also probably shut down the NSW economy because I suspect Drug Trafficking and Crime is about the only thing that State can do.

    NSW loves to bully people. They dont like it when people bully them back ( and yet its precisely what they deserve ).

  6. I’m getting sick of Clotty’s stuff ups. I’d like some semi competent governance please

    Hat tip to Harry for the new name. Pure genius on the part of whoever came up with that name

  7. happy valleyMEMBER

    “Herd immunity is somewhere off in the foggy distance of mid-2022 at best.”

    The UK Daily Telegraph is reporting today that herd immunity will be reached in the UK by next (!!!) Monday.

    How good is Straya. How good is Scummo.

    • There ain’t no such thing as herd immunity with COVID. These vaccines don’t stop you getting it or transmitting it, they stop you getting badly sick from it.

  8. working class hamMEMBER

    The ticket clipping game is all that matters. Smirko is the perfect example of just how corrupt Australia is.
    We literally have a spin doctor leading our country, an absolutely S/House one, but one all the same.
    The only job the current national govt is concerned with is dividing up the spoils, incompetence is just the easiest cover story for a group that has lost control of its own trough. Usually only the extremely blatant corrupt deals get any pushback, but with the amount of slop on offer, both the pigs and clippers are getting more brazen.
    Covid has confirmed to me what I had always feared, that Australia is doomed.
    Australia will be become the dumping ground for all of the world’s unwanted/failed vaccine surplus, sold to us as a white knight, at a premium, forced upon the public before we can rejoin the world in recovery. Thousands of Australians will suffer so a few politicians can receive private super parachutes, never waste a crisis. F this joint.

  9. Vaccination is a public health measure… doesn’t matter if it kills a few outliers, it is meant to stop pathogens spreading in an uncontrolled manner…….. here is how this problem is occurring…..immunothrombosis is part and parcel of of Covid and like all vaccines AZ is based on the virus in some way…… is the allowed cherry picking of test subjects in the service of haste that has let this happen.

    Perhaps these problems are just more prominent in the AZ vaccine and in time many of them will lead to Antibody Dependent Enhancement of the virus and we will be worse off than before. Luckily this stuff-up has stopped my wife from pushing for vaccination since I couldn’t convince her of her extreme vulnerability to these rush jobs ( Move fast and break things is the mantra I believe )

  10. reusachtigeMEMBER

    This is very bad news! Even though no one actually needs the vaccine in our great nation we need to force everyone to take it because we must boost immigration massively now so that wages can be lowered and profits can be increased. This issue will now massively delay this inevitable development meaning delayed profits for those who use this aspect of the system to succeed their own lives!

      • happy valleyMEMBER

        While we’re talking game of mates, SFM’s COVID Commission has been eerily quiet (we don’t comment on operational matters?) since establishment. Could UE or you think about doing an article soon, on what the Commission’s been up to and what the taxpayer has been stitched up with? Tah.

        • Ritualised FormsMEMBER

          The National Covid Commission – now an advisory board – has morphed into another trough from which selected pro business identities can soak up travel and accomodation expenses and a stipend and churn out sweet FA for the public or the business community. Nev Powers March 2 speech to the Company Directors had a whole room business types wondering aloud ‘did he say anything which wasnt obvious to the meanest intelligence’? And ‘WTF do these guys do?’

  11. The Government is telling doctors one vial of the AstraZeneca vaccine is supposed to do 10 patients, “book 10 patients in at a time” but they have not made the assumption that there is always a little wastage left in the syringe left in the syringe hub and needle itself after the plunger has been pushed down all the way. So in effect, you can only do 9 patients out of a 10 patient vial of vaccine.
    This can be overcome if the health allows an air gap in the mixture, this air is injected into the shoulder, takes a little more time to do,
    Alternatively as I cynically suggested, just do the former, allow for the wastage and just fill the vaccine vial up with saline to make up the difference, then every 10th person gets a saline injection, no one in officialdom will work it out and clusters start breaking out all over the place and there is high level panic over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    • Say to (below) average folk how bad they are, you’ll be slammed down with the unbreakable statement, if you think they’re bad, imagine if the other mob were in control.

      I just concede with a simple OK, and accept loss, while chanting HELP! to myself.

      • The sad thing is, it’s 100% correct. Election day is the day you choose which condiment you’ll be having on your turd sandwich. Under the ketchup/mustard, it’s still the same turd. Hapless feckers, the lot of them.

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        Yeah but it’s true! What a fkt up country we would have if Albo and his woke brigade ran this place. Only the Liberal Nationalist Party knows how to run things properly.

  12. 1. Morrison chose the AZ vaccine as it was the most cost effective one for Australia that would allow us to manufacture locally and not pump our wealth overseas into a private consortium.
    2. It is less “experimental” in form than mRNA vaccines, which have never previously been approved, and have never proven their safety long-term
    3. Delays to vaccination allow us to keep a lid on massive amounts of immigration that do nothing for the Australia people other than speed our dispossession from our own land.

    There is nothing unreasonable there, and hey, Morrison no doubt wasn’t aiming for the last but it is a happy accident for us nonetheless.

  13. 4,200 we come

    Like I’ve been saying don’t trust the experts.

    I was right to be sceptical of vaccines rushed for emergency use for a disease that has virtually no chance of killing me.

    Plus who knows what kind of long term effects from these rushed vaccines?

    The people taking them are guinea pigs basically.

    All those people throwing around the anti-vaxxer slur are eating some humble pie today.

    • It’s a temporary suspension until informed consent literature etc is updated

      What’s interesting here is NSWH vaccinating its staff and in the event of an adverse event any liability they might bear – whilst vaccination is voluntary a decent lawyer might be able to mount a case that someone felt compelled ?

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