The pandemic has strained our sense of national solidarity several times in the former 18 months but not more acutely than the current debate over whether other countries should donate up some of their Pfizer vaccine allocation to aid NSW.
New South Wales, which reached an alarming unused peak of 172 infections on Tuesday, called on other states to drop the Pfizer doses they normally receive under the agreed formula based on their population.
In a strategy similar to pounding water in the area around bushfires, NSW wants to use the extra vaccines for people in the hardest-hit southwest and western regions of Sydney. Even a single dose of Pfizer provides significant protection against disease and the spread of disease.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she had “argued with her little heart” at Friday’s national cabinet meeting but with little success.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has ultimate control over vaccine supplies, said he did not want to “disrupt the nationwide vaccination programme” by giving NSW doses at the expense of other states.
Over the weekend, the federal government said it would send about 50,000 unspecified vaccines, but it’s just a little increase from the 400,000 doses NSW receives per week.
Mr Morrison has mostly blamed NSW, arguing that lockdown is “the most significant factor in halting growth [of the pandemic]”.
Unfortunately, electoral politics and inter-state rivalries weigh heavily on this debate. Other states are questioning why NSW should aid when on 4 June this year Ms Berejiklian refused Victoria’s request for the alike aid. And they believe NSW has only itself to blame for delaying the lockdown for so lengthy and still not enforcing some of the measures used in other states, such as wearing masks outside.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison must stand overhead this fight and think about what he can do to preserve the most lives, aid the nation reopen and decrease the economic cost of the shutdown of $300 million per day. But he doesn’t seem willing to deal with the issue at all.
Mr. Morrison may be paralyzed by the fear that if he favors his home state it will cost him votes in other states in upcoming elections. He is already facing criticism that he has acted like the “prime minister of New South Wales” for providing more quickly emergency financial support to those affected by the Sydney lockdown than he did in the Victoria outbreak final month.