Poland is selling one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to boost Australia’s comparatively low COVID-19 inoculation rates.
Australia has bought extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the Polish government for an undisclosed amount. The first shipment arrived in Sydney Sunday. Reports have said Poland has been trying to sell-on at least four million spare doses from its national stockpile.
The deal is part of Canberra’s international hunt for extra doses to boost its vaccination rollout. With only about a quarter of its population fully inoculated, Australia has lagged behind many other countries.
Half of the doses from Poland will go to 20-to-39-year-olds in the worst virus-hit suburbs in Sydney, where Australia’s harshest lockdown got even stricter on Monday with new regulations that limit the movement of millions of people.
Many residents in areas with large numbers of delta variant infections are not allowed to move more than 5 kilometers from their homes as law enforcement agencies assume some of the most sweeping powers the country has ever seen.
Almost 18,000 police officers and 1,800 soldiers are patrolling Sydney streets to enforce the lockdown.
Health authorities in New South Wales Monday reported 478 new COVID-19 cases — a new daily record — and seven more fatalities.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison is urging people to obey the public health orders.
“We have been seeing those case numbers rise in Sydney and New South Wales each day and that is terribly concerning. So, together we have got to get those numbers coming down and there are two things we can do. I need you to stay at home and you needed more vaccines from us. More vaccines are on their way, they will be there this week,” Morrison said.
In Victoria, officials Monday extended a lockdown in Melbourne until at least September 2 as delta variant infections increase. A night-time curfew will be imposed from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. Lockdowns are also in place in the Australian Capital Territory — the region surrounding Canberra — and the Northern Territory.
Travel into and out of Australia remains heavily restricted. Most foreign nationals were banned from entering in March 2020 to curb the spread of the virus.
The policy continues to separate many families.
Daniella May, a German-Australian woman, has written a song about not seeing her extended family overseas.
“In different time zones we sit, and the uncertainty we breathe, we with our loved-ones freeze on ‘phone screens, cry and think, is this Australia?” May said.
About 39,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in Australia since the pandemic began, and 958 people have died, according to the Health Department.