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Australia’s new Covid advertisement is causing a backlash

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Australians have attacked the government following the release of a graphic promotional video showing a woman with severe symptoms of Covid-19, arguing that it is wrongly blaming younger people, most of whom are ineligible for vaccination.

The campaign, which was published on Sunday and aims to encourage Australians to vaccinate, features a sweating woman lying in a hospital bed gasping for breath. Your eyes are desperate. She claws her nose for the breathing tube. “Covid-19 can affect anyone,” says the following text. “Stay at home. Get tested. Book your vaccination.”

The advertisement first aired in Sydney, a city of more than five million people battling a balloon outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, authorities reported 89 new cases and Australia’s second death from the virus this year, amid concerns about slow vaccine adoption.

Only about 9 percent of the Australian population is fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times, and anyone under 40 can only get the AstraZeneca syringe with medical approval. The majority are not eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, the only other vaccine approved for use in Australia.

“Is that the new Covid advertising satire?” Emma Husar, a former member of the Australian opposition Labor Party, tweeted that the government had provided conflicting advice to Australians and failed to order sufficient doses.

Dan Ilic, an Australian comedian, parodied the ad by adding a voice over suggesting that the woman in the video was 39 years old and therefore months away from receiving a Pfizer vaccine. “We’ll be 40 sooner,” he said.

Australian officials defended the campaign, which they believed should be shocking. “It’s pretty graphical, and it’s supposed to be graphical,” the country’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly told reporters on Sunday.

“It’s really supposed to bring home this message that this is important.”

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