While the arrival of an additional 1 million Pfizer doses in Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne on Sunday was great news it is also a significant source of pressure for the embattled Morrison government.
The deliveries, the first of the anticipated million doses a week expected between now and the end of August, coincided with polling that confirmed the government once credited with saving the country from COVID-19 is now on the nose.
With the Pfizer tap now open the community expectation is inoculation rates should rise dramatically almost overnight. Speaking on Monday the Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews, said an additional 1.7 million jabs should be delivered in August; up from 2.8 million to 4.5 million. That's the closest to a target we've seen for many months.
Any failure to meet or even exceed those figures will carry a heavy political price given Monday's Newspoll showed support for the LNP had slumped to an equal 39 per cent of the primary vote with Labor. The Coalition is behind 47 per cent to 53 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis. That's an exact reversal of last July's numbers.
Those numbers are strongly supported by The Australia Institute polling, also released on Monday, which indicated public approval of the federal government's handling of the pandemic is at an all-time low.
Only 16 per cent of those polled believe the government is on top of the brief. This compares to a high of 25 per cent last August when the polls began.
While confidence in the Coalition has been declining steadily over the past 11 months, support for state and territory governments has been moving the other way. 42 per cent of people now believe their state or territory is doing a good job in managing the pandemic compared to 31 per cent last August.
Both trends have accelerated significantly since early March when it became apparent there were serious problems with the vaccine rollout. While the federal government's default defence has been to blame most delays on the lack of Pfizer and changing expert advice on the safety of AstraZeneca the increased deliveries mean the first argument no longer holds water.
It was always a stretch given strong criticism of the Commonwealth's decision to take control of the vaccination process, the many failures of communication with the GP network, and the initial refusal to countenance mass vaccination hubs.
Other blunders, such as the failure to provide timely and appropriate financial support during the fourth Victorian lockdown, have only compounded Mr Morrison's problems.
Despite knowing the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant and the devastation it had wrought overseas the Prime Minister, like Gladys Berejiklian, appears to have believed it could be successfully managed using the methods that had worked against the first wave in 2020.
They have learnt the hard way Delta is so infectious it is almost representing a new, and much more dangerous, pandemic.
With vaccine hesitancy now largely a thing of the past, especially in NSW and Victoria, the immediate task is to get shots into arms as quickly as possible with essential workers and the most vulnerable given priority.
It is unacceptable, and inexplicable, that as of Monday only 40 per cent of aged care workers had received their first dose and 20 per cent their second.
At this point in time the likelihood of the Coalition government taking the nation to an early election must appear remote.
A lot of boxes will need to be ticked before Mr Morrison can submit his political destiny to the will of the people.
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