Greg Hunt: The Australian spirit of helping our mates has shone through during this pandemic

Australians have united through this pandemic to keep everyone safe, writes Greg Hunt.

Australians have united through this pandemic to keep everyone safe, writes Greg Hunt. Photo: Getty

The Aussie spirit of helping our mates has shone through during this pandemic.

And that could not be more true than when it comes to ensuring those who need vaccines to save their lives receive them.

Make no mistake, these are life and death decisions.

When Melbourne had an outbreak in June, 300,690 additional doses were brought forward so that vaccinations could be ramped up.

New South Wales, facing an even more dire situation, has now required Australia’s help, and that has been given.

Lives have been saved.

This is not about politics. This is about putting the lives of Australians first, no matter where they live.

Not everyone will agree with every decision.

But what people can be certain of, is that the decisions made are based on the best medical advice, an analysis of that information and how best to address the challenges for the country as a whole.

So far, that has worked. Australia has not had the massive deaths that have occurred in other countries.

In NSW, while every death is tragic, the loss of life in the current outbreak is 146 compared with loss of life in the Victorian outbreak last year of 801, despite the higher number of cases now in NSW.

That is a stark difference in outcomes and shows that the vaccines are a game changer.

Every Australian aged over 12 will have access to a vaccine. We have always had more than enough vaccines for those who choose to be vaccinated.

Importantly, we have been able to bring the weight of the vaccination program forward from October and November to August and September, with the supply increasing through the significant early deliveries of one million doses from Poland, 500,000 from Singapore and four million from the UK.

Some may want to create conflict but the fact is all states and territories have received their allocations under the Horizons plan.

Where doses have been required because of outbreaks, we have supported Victoria, Queensland, NSW and the Northern Territory for the homeless and Indigenous population.

The Victorian government has so far received a higher per capita delivery of COVID vaccines than the NSW government (0.6 vaccine per eligible person v 0.5).

Victoria will continue to receive vaccines on this basis, with 1,130,905 vaccines from the UK and Singapore shipments.

AstraZeneca allocations for GPs and pharmacies have been uncapped since the start of July across Australia.

In the past two months, NSW GPs and pharmacies have drawn on the uncapped supply and delivered over 1.9 million AstraZeneca doses.

Exactly the same doses were available to Victoria but almost one million extra were taken up by NSW.

As our medical leaders have continued to stress, the best vaccine is the one you can have today and there remains continued supply of AZ.

This vaccine has overwhelmingly contributed to the protection of 89.6 per cent of people aged over 70. It’s an excellent outcome.

We all want to get to the 70 per cent and 80 per cent targets as soon as possible, but when Australians’ lives are at risk extra assistance needs to be provided where it is required.

That’s the Australian way.

We have reached out to people who have struggled during lockdowns, have delivered food, have obeyed the rules no matter how challenging, because we know it will keep us and the people we love safe.

Australians have united through this pandemic to keep everyone safe.

The Australian spirit has shone through and it will continue as we look forward to achieving the vaccination targets and ending lockdowns and opening back up again.

Greg Hunt MP is the Morrison government’s Minister for Health and Aged Care, and the federal Member for Flinders

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