Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had a goal of administering 4 million COVID vaccines by the last day of March. Not only did the country fail to hit that goal, it failed to even come close. Just 597,000 have been vaccinated so far, meaning Australia is 85% short of its goal, the BBC reports. The goal has been revised to 4 million by the end of April, but if the current pace does not increase, that goal won't be met either, the Guardian reports. Critics say the government is moving too slowly; vaccines did not even start getting administered there until Feb. 22. But officials have said the country's low coronavirus numbers (just 909 deaths and 29,300 cases) allow it to be less urgent with vaccine delivery. Supply issues, booking problems, and even natural disasters have played a role in the slow rollout. More COVID news:
- AstraZeneca: The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine continues to make not-great headlines due to the (not yet confirmed, but apparent) risk of blood clots among those who've gotten that vaccine. Germany has decided to suspend routine use of the vaccine in those under 60; Canada did the same for those under 55, the BBC reports. But in Italy, the PM and his wife got their first doses of AstraZeneca in a display of confidence. The Atlantic has more on the blood clot issue here.
- How long do we have? Experts say new formulations for COVID vaccines will be needed within a year, the Guardian reports. Many countries simply won't have very high vaccine coverage, and vaccine-resistant mutations could easily appear there. Fortunately, the mRNA technology used in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines can be tweaked quickly. The Seattle Times has more on how long vaccines could confer immunity upon those who receive them; it's difficult to predict, but some experts think two years could be a possibility before a booster is needed.
- Brazil: "The situation is completely out of control." That's the word from a Sao Paulo reporter who spoke to NBC News about COVID in Brazil, where more than 3,700 coronavirus deaths were recorded Tuesday—a record for the country.
- Vaccines seem to work well: Cases are once again rising across the US, but the new cases are being driven by those under 60—a good indication that the vaccines, which have largely been delivered to older people, are working, NBC News reports.
- Fourth wave? There's been ample warning that it's likely coming in the US, and the Washington Post has a visual of what that could look like. CNN notes that it could look very similar to what Europe started experiencing weeks ago, with new lockdowns imposed in many countries. Of particular concern is that more contagious variants, including B117, are increasing in the US.
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