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All over Australia, hope is struggling to gain momentum as an outbreak of the hyper-contagious Delta variant has thrown almost half the population into lockdown.
Many say they feel betrayed by the government’s sputtering vaccine rollout. Only 23 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, placing Australia 35th out of 38 developed countries.
“We had this incredible window that nobody else in the world had, with nearly a year of minimal Covid transmission, and we were told the whole time that ‘it’s not a race,’” said Maddie Palmer, 39, a radio and events producer in Sydney. “It was a race — and they screwed it up.”
Some have taken matters into their own hands. Quinn On realized on Monday that a busy pharmacy he owns in Western Sydney would soon run out of doses. He raced to pick up shots from one of his other stores, while his wife pleaded with local officials for extra supplies.
Their mom-and-pop business has become a vaccination hub in a city where Covid-19 case numbers refuse to decline despite a seven-week lockdown. They had already hired extra pharmacists. They set up a tent on the sidewalk to safely register arrivals. And on Monday, with all their scrambling, they secured a few hundred shots to inoculate a long line of people by day’s end.
“It’s costing us money to do this, but I’m doing this for the community,” said Mr. On, 51, who came to Australia from Vietnam as a refugee when he was 8. “I’m just hoping it will work.”