Australia As vaccination efforts see other countries return to 'normalcy', the envy for Australia dissipates
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It is "very disappointing" but "not surprising" that many conservative states are lagging behind blue states in COVID-19 vaccinations, according to American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges Benjamin.The Associated Press noted the slower rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in red states in mid-April. As of May 30, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed the five states with the lowest numbers of vaccine doses administered per 100,000 people were Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Wyoming and Arkansas—each of which former President Donald Trump won last November.
Hana Nassar felt a twang of "envy", seeing her Australian friends and relatives leading a fairly undisturbed life during the global pandemic.
But that was months ago, before vaccines against the deadly virus were rolled out, or even approved.
As many countries race towards having their population fully vaccinated,
According to have received at least one dose of a vaccine — that's less than in Mexico, Turkey or Morocco.
What's more, with 2.5 per cent of people fully vaccinated, Australia's efforts are below global average, the
And as the rest of the world shows signs of opening its borders, Australia's once-enviable position is losing its shine.
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Video: Israel: "Massif" Strengthening Violence Security Forces in Mixed Cities (France 24) Your Browser Does Not Support This Video 55% of the country's population was vaccinated © Jack Guez / AFP Vaccination of a pre-adolescent in Israel, Illustration epidemic - 55% of the country's population was vaccinated Israel extended Sunday The Vaccination campaign against The COVID-19 to adolescents aged 12 to 16, despite a "possible link" between the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine and benign cases of myocard
"We've seen you guys kind of return to normal life in a sense. I think I was really envious at first but now...," Nassar, the 30-year-old journalist from Canada, said.
"I can't imagine being in that situation, where it was, oh, we were so far ahead before and now we're seeing everyone else taking leaps instead of steps ahead."
Within six moths, her own country has gone from having a "very serious" third wave of infections to becoming one of the world leaders in terms of its speedy vaccination rate, which is now seeing 12-year-olds qualifying for the jab.
Nassar is among the 63 per cent of Canadians who've had at least one dose of the vaccine.
"I was able to get mine way sooner than I expected. I was ecstatic," she said.
"Not to sound too optimistic, but it really did feel like it. We've started to see our cases go down significantly."
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The Canadian government is ramping up even more, aiming to have the whole country vaccinated by September.
"Assuming the continued supply of safe and effective vaccines, it's expected there will be enough vaccines to immunise everyone for whom vaccines are approved and recommended," a Health Canada spokesperson told the ABC.
Toronto General Hospital's infectious diseases specialist Dr Isaac Bogoch said the September deadline was wholly achievable.
"Just watch what happens through the month of June — our rate of fully-vaccinated people is going to climb rapidly. We have secured a lot of vaccine and it is coming into the country with regularity," he said.
'Back to a sense of normalcy' in the US
Canada's southern neighbour, the United States, is also performing well — with 51 per cent of its population given at least one dose.
Subsequently, the daily death count has declined drastically, from around 3,000 in January to less than 500 in June, according to Our World in Data.
Clive Palmer's debunked COVID-19 vaccine death claims circulate despite warning from regulator
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Account manager Aubrey McMillon, from the county of Sonoma in northern California, said since getting his second dose of the vaccine in April, his life has changed significantly.
"I can now not wear my mask, when I walk in public. The first week of doing this, people would look at you hesitantly, maybe cross the street," the 43-year-old said.
"I'm finding now that [as] more and more people have been vaccinated here in my county, we've gotten rid of that. We're less hesitant to walk up to people, saying 'good morning.'"
His own newly-acquired 'freedom' culminated in a recent trip to San Francisco.
"It did feel like back to a sense of normalcy. People are out, the stores are open again, food vendors were out and we got to go on a ferry ride. Everything just reminded us of what used to be," he said.
In the UK, vaccination program is 'aggressive'
Across the Atlantic Ocean, 35-year-old Londoner Julia Mucenieks is enjoying life again.
"Definitely London has come back to life, compared to what it was even a couple of months ago," the graphic designer said.
More than 128,000 Britons have died from the virus. Determined to radically slow that death rate, the UK Government has now vaccinated 60 per cent of its people.
Biden Just Sabotaged His Own Vaccine Plan
Given the urgency to reach 70 percent vaccination in America by President Joe Biden’s July 4 deadline and the rapid decline in the number of new people getting shots, it is time to shift our strategy and move to plan B: bosses. Plan A—build it and they will come—worked great to reach those most concerned about getting infected and especially those over 65. Now, however, with the continued threat of variant strains and areas of low vaccination coverage in states like Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Arkansas, we have to move to a new plan centered on workplace vaccination requirements. And the White House needs to get in on the action, rather than ducking ugly fights.
But the UK Government has been determined to bounce back from the brink of disaster, vaccinating 60 per cent of its people to date.
"Our vaccination program is, when I say aggressive, I mean in a good way. They're very proactive," Ms Mucenieks said.
"Our government, because of the criticism from all over the world and the public here, that's why they became so 'on it' and are trying to make things right."
With her first jab already administered and second one scheduled for August, Ms Mucenieks can't wait for the perks to start showing up.
"At least travelling will be more available. My family lives in France and I haven't seen them for a year," she said.
Some European countries have already taken steps to revive travel, signing up to the European Union's Digital COVID Certificate, which shows when a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus, recovered from it or returned a negative test.
In relaxed Sweden, not much has changed
While residents in some countries are enjoying some normalcy again, for the Swedes not much has changed at all.
"In general, it's not that much different. In Sweden, it's [always] been very open," said Tobias Andersson from Ödeshög, three hours from Stockholm.
The 33-year-old chef, who last month got his first shot, said the Swedish government from the get-go took a more relaxed approach, giving people recommendations rather than restrictions — or worse, reprimands.
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"Some friends in June last year, they went to Spain and they went to Greece," he said.
"[The government] didn't tell us that we couldn't go to a different county. They just strongly advised that we shouldn't."
Sweden's response to the pandemic stuck out like a sore thumb among other Western countries, attracting criticism domestically, and globally.
More than 14,000 people have died in Sweden of COVID-19 — almost 18 times as many as in neighbouring Norway, and six times as many as in Denmark.
Molecular epidemiology professor at Uppsala University Tove Fall said a government-commissioned committee of inquiry was now evaluating the Swedish strategy and how it affected the outcomes.
"They have already delivered one report about aged care homes and elderly. There was quite a lot of criticism there about how the government acted and the Public Health Agency," she said.
"And they said it's impossible to shield people in aged care homes if you have high transmission in the society."
But Professor Fall said Sweden's 39-per-cent vaccination rate had significantly cut down the infection rate, particularly among the elderly.
A Swedish Health Department spokesperson told the ABC "everyone living in Sweden should have been offered to get vaccine before September 5".
Time for Australia to 'step up', WHO says
Many countries are now down to the younger, low-risk groups in their vaccination program.
While the World Health Organisation (WHO) said its priority was making sure vulnerable groups had access to vaccines — rather than looking at "the good, the bad and the ugly" of each country's vaccine rollout — its representative Dr Margaret Harris said now was the time for Australia to pick up the pace.
"Certainly, vaccination is like fire-break — and Australians know bushfires very well. When you're in a phase where your fire isn't burning, it's very good to build up your immune-wall," she said.
"The advantage Australia has is your authorities have set up a very good track and trace system, your community is very good at acting and understanding where they have been in contact and dealing with it.
"So, now is certainly the time to step up the vaccination."
Indian Delta variant could create two Americas, experts warn .
As of Friday, the Delta variant first identified in India accounted for 10 percent of new U.S. cases, but it is highly contagious, and the CDC expects it to dominate in a matter of weeks. Strong regional variations in vaccination coverage have emerged after doses were made available to all adults, with liberal states in the Northeast vaccinated at nearly double the rate of conservative strongholds in the Deep South. 'I call it two COVID nations,' Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told BuzzFeed News.