Dr. Fauci Warns Australia Still 'Vulnerable' To COVID-19 Spread

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Australia is scrambling to fix a troubled vaccine roll-out, with just under 1.2 million doses administered by Sunday
Australia is scrambling to fix a troubled vaccine roll-out, with just under 1.2 million doses administered by Sunday AFP / William WEST

The United States' top infectious disease expert says Australia is still "vulnerable" to COVID-19 as its vaccine rollout moves at a very slow pace. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has warned widespread infections are still possible, even for countries that have so far controlled the spread of the virus. 

At a video conference for UNSW's Kirby Institute Wednesday, Fauci said the virus still has the potential to replicate and mutate, and countries with low numbers of vaccinations are "vulnerable" to a surge in infections.

"As long as there's the dynamic of virus replication somewhere, there will always be the threat of the emergence of variants, which could then come back," Fauci said.

"Even though most of the rest of the world is vaccinated, it can threaten the world that has felt that they've controlled the virus when they're still quite vulnerable."

Fauci in the past has praised Australia for its handling of the pandemic, successfully limiting the spread of COVID-19 to only 29,469 cases as of date.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government has faced criticism for the slow rollout of the vaccine. It has also encountered many road bumps, including pausing the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to reported blood clots. 

Fauci emphasized the importance of getting the public vaccinated and praised US President Joe Biden for putting this as his "very, very top priority."

"[Biden] made equity a very important part of this. What he has done for example is open up community vaccine centers, get vaccines to the pharmacies, develop mobile units to go out to get the people who are in poorly accessible areas," the expert said, noted Yahoo! News.

According to data from the Australian Health Department, only 1,295.672 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered as of April 13. This is far from the 194,791,836 doses given in the US. Over 23% of the population are now fully vaccinated, 37% have received at least one dose. 

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