WELLINGTON, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) — The New Zealand government will purchase COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax, meaning every New Zealander will be able to be vaccinated, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.
The 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, according to a government statement.
The four pre-purchase agreements secured to date are 750,000 courses from Pfizer/BioNTech; 5 million courses from Janssen; 3.8 million courses from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca; and 5.36 million courses from Novavax, said the statement.
There are multiple types of vaccine technology that have been used to develop COVID-19 vaccines. “Our strategy has been to purchase different types of technology, to ensure if some are found in development or in trials not to be a successful option, we will have alternatives available,” Ardern said.
“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,” she said.
The AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines announced on Thursday complement the other purchases, and are compatible with existing infrastructure and storage facilities in New Zealand, she added.
“If proven to be safe and effective by New Zealand’s pharmaceuticals regulator Medsafe, they will provide broad population coverage for New Zealand and our Pacific neighbors,” Ardern said.
This will be New Zealand’s largest immunization rollout ever. Most countries are factoring the process to take all of 2021 and some of 2022 to complete due to its scale and complexity, also due to production and delivery timeframes, she said.
“Our first 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,” the prime minister said, adding that vaccination of the general public will begin in the second half of the year.
“We are moving as fast as we can, but we also want to ensure the vaccine is safe for New Zealanders,” she said.
Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods said the agreements could ensure that “we are invested in a range of options and that we’re not putting all of our eggs into one basket.” Enditem