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Singapore sling: PM says Pfizer swap deal will speed vaccination rollout

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia has secured an extra 500,000 vaccine doses to be used this month in a deal with Singapore.

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Morrison said the agreement meant 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine would arrive this week for distribution next week.

“That means there are 500,000 doses extra that will happen in September that otherwise would have had to wait for several months from now,” he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

He said it would accelerate the vaccination rollout as Australia pursued vaccination coverage targets of 70 and 80 per cent of the population aged 16 and above.

It comes on top of 5.5 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines expected to arrive this month.

Australia will send 500,000 doses to Singapore in December in return.

Earlier in the month, the Morrison government clinched a deal with Poland for an additional one million Pfizer doses.

The prime minister toned down his criticism of states wary of releasing restrictions at the lower threshold, saying he understood people wanted to be cautious.

“We are all starting from different places under this national plan but we are all heading to the same location,” he said.

Morrison said the goal was to reconnect Australians with each other and the rest of the world when more than 80 per cent of over-16s are vaccinated.

But he is adamant states like WA, SA, Tasmania and Queensland will have to prepare for cases of the Delta strain when the nation reopens.

Morrison insists major lockdowns will cause more harm than good at the higher threshold, but said it would not be “open slather” at 70 per cent.

“Ultimately everything is a state matter, but I note that there was an agreement to the national plan which was to see Australians coming together.”

Australia has fully vaccinated 35 per cent of its population aged 16 and over while 58.7 have received one dose.

While Queensland recorded no new virus cases, there were 1164 new cases in NSW on Tuesday, while Victoria recorded 76 new infections.

Australia’s death toll is 1006 after the latest three deaths in NSW.

The ACT recorded 13 new cases, prompting Chief Minister Andrew Barr to extend lockdown until at least September 17.

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