Aus govt urged to deploy forces to fast-track vax rollout

27 March 2021, Australia, Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (R) speaks to media during a visit to State Emergency Service at Claremont Meadows. Photo: James Gourley/AAP/dpa/IANS

Canberra, June 19 (IANS) Medical experts in Australia have urged the government to deploy defence forces to fast-track the troubled coronavirus vaccine rollout, which has been plagued by supply issues and safety concerns.

“We have a race on our hands that we don’t seem to be winning, and we need experts like the ADF to assist with the enormous strategic challenges,” Xinhua news agency quoted epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws as saying to national broadcaster SBS on Saturday.

“The ADF can support the General Practitioner (GP) rollout, the GPs can help the elderly who can’t make long distances to get to the hubs, and the ADF can roll out – and should be rolling out – multiple priority groups.”

As of Saturday ,there have been only 6.49 million Covid-19 vaccines administered in Australia, out of a population over 25.6 million.

On jab supply, Australia had secured 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine but due to blood clotting concerns, it has restricted the use of this vaccine, recommending it now only for those aged 60 and over.

Omar Khorshid, the president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), threw his support behind calling in the ADF.

“I think the appointment of these senior military leaders to critical positions in the vaccine rollout is a sign of the government’s need to make sure we are doing everything we can to make the rollout smooth,” he said.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison picked Australian Army officer Lieutenant General John Frewen to lead a vaccination task force.

Frewen confirmed he has launched a review of the rollout so far.

“I will be looking for any opportunity to optimize the current plans to accelerate the rollout as we can as more supply comes online,” he said.

“All of these domestic challenges involve planning and coordination and working with people and problem solving – all of those are really central to the key skill sets of the ADF.”

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