The New Zealand government will purchase Covid-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax, meaning every person in the country will be able to be vaccinated, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.
These new agreements secure access to 7.6-million doses from AstraZeneca – enough for 3.8 million people, and 10.72-million doses from Novavax– enough for 5.36 million people. Both vaccines require two doses to be administered.
In all, 15-million vaccine courses have been pre-ordered to date by the New Zealand government.
First vaccines will go to border workers
When available, these will be provided free to the public and Ardern said systems are on track to deliver the first vaccines to border workers in in the 2nd quarter of 2021, with vaccination of the general population getting underway in the second half of the year.
There are multiple types of vaccine technology that have been used to develop Covid-19 vaccines.
According to the New Zealand government, its strategy has been to purchase different types of technology in an effort to ensure that, if some are found in development or in trials not to be a successful option, there will be alternatives available.
Agreements in place with four providers
“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,” Ardern said.
“The AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines announced [on Thursday] complement our other purchases and are compatible with existing infrastructure and storage facilities in New Zealand.”
She added: “If proven to be safe and effective by pharmaceuticals regulator Medsafe, they will provide broad population coverage for New Zealand and our Pacific neighbours.”
Vaccines must first be proven to be safe
Ardern emphasised that all vaccine roll out will be dependent on Medsafe sign off, a process that is being streamlined, and on the speed of manufacture of the vaccines.
“We are moving as fast as we can, but we also want to ensure the vaccine is safe for New Zealanders,” Ardern noted.
“New Zealand is well positioned to get on with it as soon as it is proven safe to do so.”