Australia’s vaccine rollout delay may cause huge cost: research

A research report by Australia’s McKell Institute found that the delay of Australian government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout might cause a cost of over 1.4 billion Australian dollar (1.07 billion U.S. dollars).

The report, published by the the policy issue think tank in April, said such a cost was on even the most optimistic scenarios. Australia’s vaccine rollout is running well behind the announced schedule.

The Australian government planned to complete 4 million injections by the end of March, and later revised the target to vaccinating entire adult population by the end of October. However, due to many uncertainties, the government concede on Monday that Australian may not be all vaccinated by the end of this year.

The report said the government’s initial COVID-19 vaccination plan would have reached the earliest possible measure of herd immunity (65 percent vaccination rate) by August this year. However, even if Australia instantly picks up vaccination rollout rate to that of Britain which is currently the second-best performer in the world, it would delay herd immunity by 116 days from the government’s original projection.

Under such circumstance, Australia could except 11.1 days of lockdown in the extra period, costing the economy about 1.368 billion Australian dollar (1.045 billion U.S. dollars).

By comparison, if Australia were to instantly increase the pace of vaccination to mimic the rate of Germany, the delay would be 353 days with a projected economic cost of 4.164 billion Australian dollar (3.16 billion U.S. dollars).

“These delays will increase the chance of lockdowns and the economic costs that come with them,” said McKell Institute’s executive director Michael Buckland.

“It’s vital we are clear sighted about the cost and impact of a government’s action or inaction … Australia’s vaccination program has failed to meet its targets and it’s incomprehensible that we will catch up. The leaders need to accept the additional risks of delay and act,” he said.

He also suggested the government consider additional support measures for vulnerable people and businesses in response to the delay.