'Dropped the ball': PM told to phone BoJo for vaccine advice
Britain's bet spreading vaccine success has prompted calls for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to phone Boris Johnson and ask for advice.
Pubs, hairdressers and shops open from Monday in Britain, with predictions that herd immunity may have already been achieved.
More than 20 million people have received their first dose of either the Oxford AstraZeneca, which is still backed by 75 per cent of Brits despite the extremely rare cases of blood clots that prompted restrictions on the jab there for people under 30 this week.
Another 10 million Pfizer jabs have been rolled out, while Moderna vaccine doses were used in Wales this week.
Australia's eggs-in-one-basket vaccine program is in chaos, with targets missed by more than 3 million and concerns that it would not be able to quickly secure more Pfizer jabs amid fierce global competition.
People wanting to get an Oxford AstraZeneca jab were turned away in Australia this week amid legal red tape following a change in advice that those under 50 should be offered a Pfizer jab.
Former South Australian Premier Mike Rann, now based in London, says Australia's vaccination plan "doesn't make sense".
"Australia and New Zealand led the world in response to the coronavirus pandemic while Britain stuffed its response," he said.
"But what I can't understand is, Britain has rolled out its vaccine brilliantly, well over 30 million have had their jab. It's a reversal of 2020.
"I don't understand the delays. Why didn't they (the Australian Government) pick up the phone and ask what have you done well? Australia has dropped the ball."
Mr Rann, 68, said he had received his Oxford vaccine at the precise time of his appointment, such was the "military precision" of the rollout.
Confidence in the Oxford AstraZeneca jab in Britain remains high, at 75 per cent according to a poll this week after the UK said it would not use it in people under 30 because of extremely rare blood clots.
That was only 2 percentage points down on a previous survey before the "plausible link" to blood clots was confirmed.
Confidence in the Pfizer jab was at 78 per cent, the YouGov poll found.
The sister of British man Neil Astles, 59, who was one of 19 people who died of a blood clot following an Oxford AstraZeneca jab in the UK, urged people still to take the vaccine.
"If you've had one dose, go ahead and have your second. If you haven't had your dose yet make sure that you do," Dr Alison Astles told the BBC.
"The risk of a clot is very, very small and my brother was extraordinarily unlucky."
More than 46 per cent of Britain's population has been vaccinated - only Israel fares better, with coverage at 60.7 per cent of its much smaller population.
A University College of London study released last week found that as many as 73.4 per cent of Brits would have immunity by Monday through vaccinations or previously having caught COVID-19.
European Union countries, including Germany, France and Italy, have vaccinated just a little more than 10 per cent of their populations, in a debacle that has become a flag-waving advertisement for Brexit.
Deaths and cases in Britain have plummeted as the rollout has progressed. The UK recorded as few as 10 daily deaths over the Easter break down from more than 1300 at the peak of the second wave.
Cases have fallen to just over 3000 a day, compared with 60,098 on January 9 when the more infectious B117 strain was cutting a swathe through Britain.
Britain ordered more than 367 million doses of a total of seven COVID-19 vaccines, including the one-jab Johnson and Johnson injection.
Australia has ordered 53.8 million AstraZeneca jabs, most of which will be made in Australia, and placed a late 10 million dose order on the Pfizer vaccine, just days before its stunning results were announced.
Another 20 million Pfizer doses have been ordered, but the United States has already ring fenced another 100 million doses in February, leaving Australia at the back of the queue.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has also ordered 51 million Novavax jabs, but they will have to come from Europe which is currently withholding 3.1 million AstraZeneca jabs destined for Australia.
Former UK Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan-Smith said Britain had spread its bets on vaccines and was reaping the rewards.
"All of the vaccines Britain bought have turned out OK," he said.
"Britain bought up surplus Pfizer vaccines and other vaccinations and with all these contracts money was paid upfront - shedloads of money."
The UK government poured $118 million into the Oxford jab, and did a deal with AstraZeneca to produce it at cost during the pandemic so it could be affordable for developing countries.
GPs were on the front line of the roll out, but then stadiums and mass vaccination centres have been used for younger age groups.
And the British government has also been tackling vaccine hesitancy among minority groups.
"Now we're taking buses and they are mobile vaccination centres going into these communities to reach them," he said.
"It means they can go door to door and vaccinate all the people in the one household regardless of where they are in the queue."
The success of the vaccine program has meant that quarantine-free international travel to approved countries may resume as early as next month.
AUSSIE NURSE GIVING LIFESAVING JABS
Australian nurse Lou Faint has earned a beer.
She has spent up to seven days a week working in the accident and emergency department at Sandwell General Hospital in Birmingham, England, for the past year.
And from Monday, April 12, her hard work - and Britain's - will be rewarded with lockdown restrictions eased, allowing her to drink a pint in the beer garden of her local the Crown and Cushion.
The 25-year-old, who arrived from Perth just a few months before the pandemic hit, is hoping that the COVID vaccine she has received might also help her get back to see her family in Australia sooner.
"I'm really excited because I'm hoping that it will mean that being vaccinated that returning to Australia to see my family will be easier, maybe the government will reduce the quarantine time, who knows?," she said.
"But that was my biggest motivator for getting the vaccine, returning to Australia to see my family.
"It's been 14 months since I've seen them. It doesn't sound like very long but to me, it is."
Britain's march out of lockdown will see not just the reopening of beer gardens, for the first time this year, but also that of hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms and non-essential shops.
"It's been five months since I've been out for anything, it's really, really exciting," Ms Faint said.
"With the amount of people who have been vaccinated (in the UK) we're pretty safe and I'm hopeful things will remain open."
The frontline nurse has observed first hand the impact of the vaccine - and Britain's third lockdown - on reducing COVID-19 cases.
Her hospital has reduced the number of COVID beds from 20 to only four beds.
And now, those beds are not always full, compared with January when they were overwhelmed.
The drop in cases happened as early as mid-February as the vaccine roll out ramped up.
The case for taking a vaccine in Britain was obvious because of the staggering death toll of more than 120,000.
Ms Faint said she could understand why people in Australia may not see the urgency of getting a jab because of its successful suppression strategy.
But she said that from her experience, the vaccines were safe and effective.
"It's concerning to see the number of people who believe the vaccines are mandatory and therefore, do not want to be vaccinated," she said.
"People are reluctant to get vaccinated because COVID-19 is barely existent within
Australia's borders and the virus isn't affecting the daily lives of people like it is in the UK so a lot of Australian's don't understand the need."
Originally published as 'Dropped the ball': PM told to phone BoJo for vaccine advice