Scott Morrison urged world leaders to increase production of mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer’s during an Apec meeting to discuss recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Online Retreat on Friday evening, which was also attended by US President Joe Biden, Russian Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
This is the first time in the history of the regional forum that a special meeting has been held at the leadership level and comes at a time when 12 million Australians are stranded due to spiraling outbreaks of the Delta virus variant .
The 21 members of Apec suffered their largest contraction since World War II, with 81 million jobs lost and a contraction of 1.9% of GDP.
But Morrison bragged about Australia’s fiscal recovery at the virtual summit, saying the economy has rebounded to higher levels than before the pandemic.
“When this pandemic started and we had these meetings, we talked about saving lives and saving livelihoods. In many ways this has been achieved, ”he said. “There are more people employed now in Australia than before the pandemic.
“This has been greatly facilitated by the tax support programs we have put in place and the successful elimination strategies we have put in place.”
Morrison highlighted the success of a global vaccination effort as a way out of the pandemic.
The key to this is the production of more mRNA vaccines like those manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.
“Increasing vaccine production is really the challenge for all of us,” he said. “We are producing the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia, but in particular the capacity to produce mRNA vaccines is something that we really need to increase globally, so that we can bring it to more and more of the population. “
Morrison noted that Australia itself faces “quite a challenge” in breaking through critical vaccination “thresholds”.
Only 13.3% of the Australian population has been fully vaccinated.
In the meantime, the country would remain in a phase of suppression, he said, in a nod to the closures of NSW and Victoria.
In a statement released after the meeting, Apec leaders pledged to redouble efforts to expand vaccine manufacturing and supply and said they would continue to support economies for as long as needed.
They also said that voluntary transfer of vaccine production technology on mutually agreed terms would be encouraged.
The leaders’ statement said they must pave the way for a safe resumption of cross-border travel, but “without undermining efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
The full summit of Apec leaders is due to be held online in November.