CANBERRA - Australia's Health Minister Greg Hunt has defended the slow start to the country's rollout of coronavirus vaccines.
Australia began administering COVID-19 vaccines on last Sunday, with frontline health workers and aged care residents and staff given priority access.
Under the rollout plan, the government promised that about 60,000 doses would be administered in the first week and that 240 aged care facilities would be vaccinated.
Despite the delay, Hunt said he expected the rollout to be back on track early in March.
"Let's put everything in perspective," he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday afternoon.
"We went from 1,600 vaccinations on day one, which was effectively a trial and commencement day, to approximately 6,000 on day two, to almost 10,000 on day three. We're expecting significantly increased continuous numbers and then a stable state."
"On the 60,000 doses, we are likely to achieve that either by Sunday night or within 24 hours afterwards. On the 240 aged care facilities, it's likely to be within 72 hours of the scheduled time. But by the end of the second week, we are expecting to be fully on track. "
As of Thursday afternoon, there had been 28,947 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were zero and eight respectively, according to the latest figures updated on Thursday evening from the Department of Health.