LONDON (Reuters) - Australia's vaccine rollout has been "a colossal failure" because the government failed to buy enough vaccines so its borders are therefore likely to remain closed until at least early 2022, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the BBC.
Under fire for a slow vaccine rollout, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said more vaccine supply was not going to ensure New South Wales gets out of a five-week lockdown, but what was needed was an effective, properly enforced lockdown.
Turnbull said the Australian government had failed to buy enough vaccines, only securing a plentiful supply of AstraZeneca shots though there was considerable vaccine hesitancy over that vaccine and not enough other shots had been bought.
"It's the biggest failure of public administration I can recall," Turnbull, who served as prime minister from 2015-2018 before being ousted by Morrison in a party room coup. "It was a colossal failure and the problem is you can't wind the clock back and fix what should have been done last year."
"The very reason we are locked down - which is so frustrating when so many other parts of the world are opening up - is simply because our government failed to buy enough vaccines," he told the BBC.
With only about 16% of Australians aged over 16 years so far fully vaccinated, the country's main drug regulator on the weekend changed its recommendation to encourage wider takeup of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)