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The New Zealand Government announced two new vaccines that have been secured, which is enough for every New Zealander.
15 million vaccine courses have been pre-ordered to date, vaccines will be free to the public, Medsafe processes streamlines for timelines and rollout, and it will be the first vaccine on track to be delivered to border workers in the second quarter of 2021.
The general population will be vaccinated during the second half of the year. It will be the largest ever immunisation programme, and it is progressing well according to the New Zealand Government.
PM Jacinda Ardern announced today that the Government will purchase COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies named AstraZeneca and Novavax.
AstraZeneca will have roughly 7.6 million doses, that is enough for 3.8 million people — 10.7 million doses from Novavax will supply enough for 5.36 million people. It is noted that both vaccines require at-least two doses to be administered.
The Governments four pre-purchases secured today, are the following: 750,000 courses from Pfizer/BioNTech, 5 million courses from Janssen, 4.8 million courses from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and 5.46 million courses from Novavax.
“We now have agreements in place with four providers, covering three different types of vaccine technology and we have secured more than enough doses to cover our entire population plus the Pacific,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“Our strategy has been to purchase different types of technology, to ensure if some are found in development or trials not to be a successful option we will have alternatives available.”
“The AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines announced today complement our other purchases, and are compatible with existing infrastructure and storage facilities in New Zealand.”
If the vaccines are proven to be safe, New Zealand’s pharmaceuticals regulator Medsafe will provide more broad population coverage to the Pacific.
Accordingly, this will be the biggest vaccine rollout in New Zealand’s history ‘ever’ says Ardern in a statement.
Most countries around the world are rolling the vaccine out throughout 2021, and some of 2022 due to delivery and production timeframes. Since New Zealand is a smaller population, it means that it can roll out a vaccine quicker.
“Our priority will be to vaccinate border workers and essential staff who are at the greatest risk of getting COVID-19. We expect vaccines to be delivered to our front line workers in the second quarter of 2021,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“We aim to then commence vaccination of the general public in the second half of the year. All vaccine rollout will be dependent on Medsafe sign off, which we are streamlining, and speed of manufacture.
“We are moving as fast as we can, but we also want to ensure the vaccine is safe for New Zealanders.”
Ardern says that the whole population around the world ‘never before’ has sought to be vaccinated, entirely at the same time.
Never before has the entire globe sought to vaccinate the entire population at the same time. This will be a sustained roll out over months not weeks but our pre-purchase agreements mean New Zealand is well-positioned to get on with it as soon as it is proven safe to do so,” Jacinda Ardern said.
The Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods says the agreements ensure that the health of New Zealand’s citizens is being invested into a large range of options.
“As there are no guarantees that all the vaccines will complete clinical trials, or be approved for use, this approach ensures we can access safe and effective vaccines at the earliest possible time, Megan Woods said.
The plan is to ensure that no one misses out on a vaccine, even if the Government has purchased too many or has some in supply after a mass-vaccination. Megan Woods says that they are confident with the four agreements that place the country in an ‘excellent’ position.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says even though there’s no community transmission, the first to be vaccinated will be the most at risk of being exposed to the virus,
“Our border remains the first line of defence against COVID-19 from imported cases. To make any decisions around borders, we need to be confident that the New Zealand population is sufficiently protected,” Chris Hipkins said.
“It means we will need information on whether the COVID-19 vaccines are effective at providing individuals with protection from contracting the virus and reducing transmission – and a gradual building towards population immunity, which will take time.”
The Minister of Health Andrew Little says everyone will ‘eventually’ have access to a vaccine that is free of any charges.
“Currently, given we have no community transmission, the first group who would be immunised are those most at risk of being exposed to COVID-19. This includes the border and MIQ workforce, the COVID-19 frontline healthcare workers, and their household contacts. This will further strengthen our border,” Andrew Little said.
“We’re factoring into our planning a large number of complex and interconnected individual strands, including the safety approval process, global supply chains, as well as lead-in times to manufacture and ship vaccines in bulk quantities.”
“Pfizer and BioNTech and Janssen have already started to submit data, and timing around Medsafe’s approval process depends on many factors, such as the data that companies provide and whether it meets internationally agreed criteria for safety and efficacy.
“Medsafe has streamlined its assessment processes and is prioritising the assessment of COVID-19 vaccines over other pharmaceuticals to obtain a vaccine more quickly, but there will be no compromise on the safety of the vaccine. Medsafe will remain in close contact with its Australian counterpart throughout,” Andrew Little concluded.
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