With half the country in lockdown, Australia’s prime minister apologizes for slow vaccine rollout.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday apologized for the delay in the country’s vaccine program amid mounting pressure to take responsibility with half the population in lockdown due to outbreaks driven by the Delta variant.

“I’m definitely sorry we didn’t get the points we expected at the start of the year, of course I am,” Mr Morrison told a news conference. “But what is more important is that we are fully focused on making sure that we are changing that.”

At the beginning of the year, Mr. Morrison said He aims to vaccinate everyone who wants the shots by the end of October. The target has since been pushed back to the end of the year.

A month ago, only 5 percent of Australians over the age of 16 were fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in wealthy countries. Mr Morrison said the program has picked up pace and the rate is now 15 per cent, with 36 per cent receiving at least one dose. official figures.

Mr Morrison’s comments came as New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, reported 124 new community cases – its highest daily total so far – in the fourth week of lockdown. The head of state, Gladys Berejiklian, warned that she was “expecting the case numbers to rise even more” because many people were contagious while in the community.

The state of Victoria, also in lockdown, recorded 26 daily cases, the highest level this year.

On Wednesday, Mr Morrison had refused to apologize for the vaccine rollout during a radio interview At the commercial station KIIS. The host, Jason Hawkins, at one point called for a repeated apology, saying: “Scott, I’ll take a ‘my bad, Jess’ one too.”

The prime minister replied: “We are fixing the problem and moving forward with it.”

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