All through last year, as first Europe and then the United States suffered catastrophically high coronavirus infections and deaths, Pacific Rim countries staved off disaster through an array of methods. South Korea tested widely. Australia and New Zealand locked down. In Japan, people donned masks and heeded calls to isolate.
Now, the roles have been reversed. These countries that largely subdued the virus are among the slowest in the developed world to vaccinate their residents, while countries like Britain and the United States that suffered grievous outbreaks are leapfrogging ahead with inoculations.
The United States has fully vaccinated close to a quarter of the population, and Britain has given first shots to nearly half of its residents. By contrast, Australia and South Korea have vaccinated less than 3 percent of their populations, and in Japan and New Zealand, not even 1 percent of the population has received a shot.
To some extent, the laggards are taking advantage of the luxury of time that their comparatively low infection and death counts afford. And they all rely on vaccines developed — and, for now, manufactured — elsewhere.
dropped a goal of vaccinating the country’s entire population by the end of the year.
In Australia and Japan, the authorities have blamed supply problems from Europe for the slow rollout. Australia has said the European Union failed to deliver 3.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. A spokesman for the European Commission said that only 250,000 doses had been withheld from Australia by Italy in March, but officials in Australia say the reality is that the rest of the doses, blocked or not, simply have not arrived.
Australia has faced further complications as it has advised against giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 50 after reports of very rare blood clots.
reluctant to get vaccinated right away.