Canada has announced it will re-open its international borders in September while 14 million Australians are in Covid lockdowns with no prospect of an overseas holiday this year.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that fully vaccinated Americans, who have been barred since March 2020, will be allowed in from August 9 and fully vaccinated citizens of all other nations can enter from September 7.
The country of 38million is opening up after fully vaccinating 60 per cent of over 12s following a huge ramping up of its initially slow vaccine rollout.
Canada has announced it will re-open its international borders in September. Pictured: Residents in Montreal
Meanwhile, Australia – which has banned tourists and is even rationing tickets for citizens to return home – is not expected to open its international borders until July 2022, according to the May budget.
This is because only 14.98 per cent of over 16s are fully vaccinated and everyone will not be offered a vaccine until the end of the year.
Such a contrast would have been hard to imagine in February when Canada had only given a single dose to 2.34 per cent of its population due to a lack of supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the same problem facing Australia now.
Mr Trudeau was under extraordinary pressure to increase the pace of the rollout as the US and the UK surged ahead with rapid vaccination programs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that fully vaccinated Americans, who have been barred since March 2020, will be allowed in from August 9. Pictured: Ice hockey fans in Montreal
In February, Canada was widely criticised for taking 1,903,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Covax, the World Health Organisation’s pool designed to help poor nations.
But then its supplies of Moderna and Pfizer arriving from Europe began to rapidly increase, with 8million jabs arriving by the end of March and 36.5million by the end of June.
Mass vaccine hubs were set up around the country to quickly administer the jabs, including Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
The central province of Manitoba even allowed physiotherapists, vets, medical assistants and retired doctors to administer the vaccine.
The country’s biggest city, Toronto (population 3million) opened nine vaccination hubs to jab more than 120,000 people a week.
As of July 19, Canada had administered about 25.4million Pfizer doses, 7.6million Moderna doses and 1.4million AstraZeneca doses.
Cleaners at work inside the Prahran Market in Melbourne on Thursday after a customer tested positive for Covid-19
On May 30 only 9.94 per cent of Canadians in their 70s were fully vaccinated, but this rate soared to 82.1 per cent by July 11.
The rollout was helped because Canada had done huge vaccine deals with three suppliers from mid-2020.
In total, Canada has ordered some 400million vaccine doses – the highest per capita rate in the world – including 44million Moderna, 76million Pfizer, 20million AstraZeneca and 38million Johnson and Johnson which is pending approval.
Some 20million doses of Pfizer were ordered in July 2020, four months before Australia ordered 10million doses in November.
Canadians also showed a readiness to get the jab to protect themselves from Covid-19. The country has suffered 1.42million cases and 26,512 deaths.
Last September only 39 per cent of Canadians said they wanted a vaccine but that number was 82 per cent by May.
The result of an abundant supply, willing population and an efficient system, is that 80 per cent of over 12s have had at least one dose and country is relaxing Covid restrictions.
Scott Morrison has apologised for the slow pace of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is apologising to Australians for not getting more jabs into arms faster.
‘I’m sorry that we haven’t been able to achieve the marks that we had hoped for at the beginning of this year. Of course I am,’ he said as 14 million faced lockdowns across three states.
‘But what’s more important is that we’re totally focused on ensuring that we’ve been turning this around,’ he said.
The apology came after Mr Morrison refused three times to say sorry during a KIISFM radio interview on Wednesday.
In a press conference in Canberra on Thursday, the Prime Minister said the rollout would ramp up rapidly in the coming months as 1million Pfizer doses arrive per week.
Sydney residents are in lockdown until at least July 30. Pictured: Residents at Bronte Beach
Some 184,000 vaccines were administered across the nation on Wednesday, a record daily number.
‘I take responsibility for the things that haven’t gone as well as we’d have liked and I take responsibility for the things that have worked as well,’ he said.
‘No country gets everything right, no Prime Minister gets everything right as well. So, my job is to keep getting on with the job.’
Mr Morrison said 470 pharmacies will be offering the AstraZeneca jab by the end of July, up from 118 currently.
Labor health spokesman Mark Butler said more pharmacies should have been rolling out jabs months ago.
Mr Morrison has faced constant criticism from the Labor Opposition which has accused him of failing to sign enough vaccine deals last year.
NSW recorded 124 new cases on Wednesday, taking Sydney’s outbreak – which began with an air crew driver testing positive on June 16 – to 1,648 infections.
Victoria recorded 26 new cases, taking its outbreak to 46 and South Australia’s cluster climbed to 15 infections.
Both states are in lockdown until at least Wednesday while Sydney’s lockdown is supposed to end on July 30 but is likely to be extended.
Melbourne is in lockdown until at least July 27. Pictured: Residents at Yarra River on Thursday
According to government data released on June 28, about two in 100,000 people will get a blood clot from the AstraZeneca jab and only three per cent of those affected will die, a mortality rate of 0.6 in a million. Meanwhile, the Covid-19 mortality rate in Australia is 3.9 per cent, or 39,000 in a million
Australia’s vaccine rollout was thrown into chaos in April when the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (Atagi) said the AstraZeneca jab was only recommended for over 50s because of a low risk of blood clots in younger people.
The move prompted the government – which was planning to use AstraZeneca to vaccinate most people – to push back its aim to offer a jab to everyone from October to December.
In June Atagi increased the minimum recommend age to 60, denting confidence and delaying the jab rollout by two months as the government scrambled to get more Pfizer into the country.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young even stoked anti-vaxxers when she pleaded with young people not to take the vaccine saying: ‘I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got Covid, probably wouldn’t die.’
Several doctors have reported that some over 60s – who are recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine – are choosing to delay their vaccinations so they can get Pfizer instead.
Mr Morrison said he chose to prioritise securing AstraZeneca last year because Australia can make it onshore and it was easier to store than Pfizer.
All of Victoria is in lockdown until next Wednesday. Pictured: Melbourne residents on Wednesday