Anthony Fauci says Australia's vaccine rollout should be 'highest priority'

US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said the vaccine rollout should be the highest priority. Picture: Getty Images
US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said the vaccine rollout should be the highest priority. Picture: Getty Images

The Australian vaccine rollout should be the "highest priority" to tackle the ever-present coronavirus pandemic, according to the United States' leading infectious diseases expert.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci said the vaccine rollout had been a success because it was made the "highest priority" by incoming President Joe Biden, and had significant resources thrown at it.

He said "profound divisiveness" in the US coupled with emerging variants, contributed to the nation being hit "worse than essentially any other country" by the pandemic.

There has been more than half a million COVID-19 deaths in the US and the country is recording tens of thousands of new infections daily, while the race is on to get the population immunised.

It has been a leader in vaccine distribution, with 4.6 million doses administered in just one day.

Meanwhile, Australian targets have been missed and the rollout has been marred with issues as the government scrapped the 2021 target this week.

Dr Fauci said the US rollout had worked well because equity was made a important factor.

He said community centres, access to vaccines at pharmacies and units deployed to inaccessible regions had helped the effort.

"[Biden] got as many people out into the field as he possibly could," Dr Fauci said.

"Those are retired physicians, military personnel, nurses, medical students, as many people as you possibly can get out there and administer it.

"So it was really making it the highest priority to get vaccine into people's arms and it works."

He said vaccination across the globe was the only way out of the pandemic, and said countries like the US and Australia had a responsibility to ensure developing nations were part of that.

"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," Dr Fauci said.

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

"If you want to maintain control you want to have control throughout the entire world."

Dr Fauci said decisions were driven by science and fact since Mr Biden took office, but said some state independent state governors who "essentially defied" public health recommendations were a reason behind the race away from a surge in cases.

"It led to obviously some strain and stress between us," Dr Fauci said.

"Even now when the former president is no longer in office, he still talks about that, which is unfortunate."

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This story Australia's vaccine rollout should be 'highest priority': Fauci first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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