How Australians can make sense of the vaccination supply numbers

These are some extracts from an article published in The Age: “What do the vaccine reopening targets mean and when are more doses coming?”

A careful reading can prove to be informative.

Stephen Duckett, a former federal health department secretary now at the Grattan Institute, is quick to point out that those 70 and 80 per cent vaccination targets since agreed by national cabinet leave out children, and so actually represent about 56 per cent of Australia’s total population of 25 million or so. “Children still spread the virus,” he says. “We still think you should get to 80 per cent of the entire population vaccinated before you throw out lockdowns and open borders.”

Dr Stephen Druckett BEc (ANU), MHA, DSc, PhD (UNSW), DBA (Bath), DipEd(Tert) (DDIAE), DipLegStud (La Trobe), FASSA FAHMS FAICD

Druckett Is absolutely correct to point out that is 56% of the total population.

That is problematic in terms of protection will provide.

Confusion with this arises from the definition of the adult population built into Scott Morrison’s definition of his targets for opening up the economy. It is based on the adult population being 80% of the total population. Morrison wants 80% of that population to be fully vaccinated. That’s about 14m people according to Duckett.

It is likely that by the time Australia reaches the target, no one is going to be terribly concerned about the technical details. There will just be relief to be out of lockdown. But that is probably likely to prove disastrous.

Then there are the numbers.

“And almost 8 million doses of the 40 million we’ve ordered for this year had been received. Exact supply numbers are usually only locked in four weeks in advance, when Pfizer confirms the final numbers being released that month. But General Frewen says Australia is working to bring the rest of those 32 million doses forward to more than 1 million arriving each week. According to his roll-out plan, we will have 5 million Pfizer doses to use in August, 4 million in September, 10 million in November and 6 million come December.”

But when you add up the numbers, they don’t add up.

40 – 8 = 32

32 million doses arriving at 1 million a week is eight months, which is March of 2022 for all the Pfizer doses to arrive.

But there appears to be another timetable: 5 million in August, 4 million in September, 10 million in November and 6 million in December equals 25 million. Not 32.

My modelling suggests that to reach the 80% goal nationally by Christmas Australia will need 33 million vaccine doses.

So then there is this piece of news.

“From September, the first of the 25 million Moderna doses on order will also begin arriving – 10 million is expected by December.”

Has now been approved for the same target groups as Pfizer.

What the news article doesn’t tell us is the rate at which these doses will be arriving and whether it will be fast enough to meet the 80% target by December.

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