Vaccine rollout delay will cost economy $16.4 billion due to border closures alone

The McKell Institute

Border closures made necessary by delays to Australia’s vaccine rollout will cost the economy $16.4 billion, according to new modelling by the McKell Institute.

The new report, Counting the cost of Australia’s delayed vaccine roll-out: Part Two, projects the likely delay in border reopening as a result of the nation’s slow vaccine uptake rate.

It finds that our current rate of vaccination risks delaying the end to international border closures by 81 days later than originally planned, which will incur an economic cost estimated at $16.4 billion.

McKell Institute executive director Michael Buckland said that the aviation sector and the industries that rely on it have suffered enough.

“Every Australian should understand exactly how costly this vaccine rollout delay has been, and that means taking into consideration the huge cost of border closures,” Mr Buckland said.

“As the India situation has emphatically underscored, an open economy like ours cannot possibly return to anything resembling normal until we have a vaccinated population.

“Lockdowns are devastating to the economy, but even if we were to somehow avoid any more, the cost of maintaining border closures is disastrous in and of itself.

“Australia has built a thriving economy based on open trade, immigration, and engagement with the world. Every week we go without these things it badly weakens our economy.

“If Australia’s border remain closed for even longer, the Government has no choice but to increase support for the aviation industry and its workforce.”

After the Federal Government failed to reach its target of four million vaccine doses administered by the end of March 2021, the McKell Institute published Counting the cost of Australia’s delayed vaccination roll-out: Part One in April.

That report projected the likelihood of capital city lockdowns that could be attributed to the delay in Australia’s vaccination program under various scenarios. It found conservatively that the economic cost of these lockdowns would be around $1.4 billion, even if Australia followed the world-class UK vaccination rate.

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