Australia’s COVID19 vaccination rollout fell down the international rankings in May after slipping further behind national targets at home, according to new analysis from C-suite strategy firm Provocate.

Australia fell five places in the past month from 5th to 10th of 14 nations benchmarked by the Australian Department of Health, overtaken by Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and the European Union at the same point in their own vaccination rollouts.

Lower ranked countries, such as New Zealand, South Korea, Canada and Japan, also grew at about double the pace of Australia in their third month of rollout (see Table 1. below).

The findings, from the May edition of Provocate’s independent VaxEnomicTM Forecaster for business, coincide with Australia’s average daily vaccination rate increasing just 10,000 per day to 58,000 last month.

Provocate Managing Director Troy Bilsborough said while Victorian lockdowns had seen a welcome lift in vaccination rates in the past week – this was still half the 200,00 daily vaccinations needed to meet the Federal Budget’s revised target of completing the rollout by the end of 2021 (see Table 2. Below).

Mr Bilsborough – a former senior advisor to the Federal Health & Aged Care Minister – said the increasing lack of political will to take on voter hesitancy around the safety of current vaccine stocks was the biggest impediment to getting Australia back on track, but lockdown could provide a “silver lining”.

“Australia’s lagging rate of vaccination at home is having a significant impact on its global standing, as well as the risk of market share losses to competitor countries that reopen faster,” Mr Bilsborough said.

“For example, Australia has one of the slowest start dates and lowest vaccination rates of all G20 nations.

“The current ‘grass is greener’ message around an end of year vaccination boost is the single biggest risk to Australia’s vaccine rollout right now and will only increase as Federal Election pressure mounts.

“Business must therefore be confident they’re banking on government facts, not false prophets.

“We remain concerned that the daily boost in COVID19 immunisations driven by Victorian lockdown fear will only be temporary unless governments can harness this lapse in vaccine hesitancy to their advantage.

“Our outlook remains unchanged – until Australia is consistently averaging at least one million jabs in arms per week, every week, then business should plan for a vaccine rollout completion closer to 2023 than 2021.

“Unless Australia can strike a deal with a close ally like the US or UK to loan it urgent vaccine surplus between now and October, the only way for Australia to get back on track is collectively convince itself to accept and administer its current vaccine stocks and actively reduce promises of safer batches to come.”

Mr Bilsborough said inconsistency was one of the biggest reasons for Provocate’s position, with recent records of 100,000 vaccinations in a day being undercut by days as low as 10,000 or less last month.

Provocate’s VaxEnomicTM Forecaster shows that there’s about 13 million additional vaccinations required for Australia to reach the top rate of herd immunity (48m; 95%) and the lower end of COVID19 (35m, 70%).

Australia is also still yet to confirm with rate of herd immunity its December 2021 vaccination completion target is based on, although its gold standard for infectious diseases is 95 per cent coverage.

The US has increasingly raised their expectations for COVID19 from 70 per cent up towards 90 per cent.

Table 1: Change in Australia’s global standing on vaccination rates based on Australian Department of Health’s ‘International Comparisons at equivalent stages of rollout

Country 22 Apr 2021 Country 22 May 2021 Difference
UK 20.7 UK 37.1 79%
US 16.8 US 35.4 111%
Singapore 11.8 Singapore 31.6 168%
Sweden 7.5 Belgium 15.7 124%
Australia 7.2 Sweden 15.5 107%
Belgium 7 EU 15.3 125%
EU 6.8 France 15.3 113%
Germany 6.8 Germany 15.2 124%
Italy 6.5 Italy 15.2 134%
France 6 Australia 14 94%
South Korea 3.8 NZ 9.8 180%
NZ 3.5 South Korea 10.7 182%
Canada 3.1 Canada 7.8 152%
Japan 1.5 Japan 5.3 253%

Source: Provocate analysis of Australian Department of Health ‘International Comparisons at equivalent stages of rollout’ data as at 22 April 2021 (click here, p4) vs data as at 22 May 2021 (click here, p4)

Table 2: Increase in number of daily vaccinations needed from now onwards to meet Australian Government targets due to slower-than-expected growth in daily vaccination rates.

  Original Vaccine Target (October 2021) Revised Vaccine Target (December 2021)
Apr 2021 May 2021 Apr 2021 May 2021
Actual 48k/day 58k/day 48k/day 58k/day
Herd Immunity 95% 244k/day 279k/day 185k/day 202k/day
85% 218k/day 247k/day 165k/day 179k/day
70% 178k/day 200k/day 135k/day 145k/day

Source: Provocate analysis of vaccination statistics from Australian Department of Health & Our World in Data.