Government signs agreement to purchase 1.5m Covid-19 vaccines, enough for 750k people

Source: 1News

The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million Covid-19 vaccines, enough for 750,000 people, from Pfizer and BioNTech.

The Director-General’s comments come as many countries, especially in Europe, endure a second spike in infections.

The agreement is subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

“Our first vaccine purchase agreement has been signed and it brings to fruition some of the critical work going on behind the scenes to keep New Zealanders safe from Covid-19,” Woods said.

“As part of the agreement, vaccine delivery to New Zealand could be as early as the first quarter of 2021. This is just the first tranche of work in a multi-pronged approach to ensuring we secure vaccines for New Zealanders.

“Provided the vaccine is approved for use here in New Zealand by Medsafe, it is possible that some doses will be available to us in the first part of 2021.”

The Covid-19 Vaccine Strategy Task Force is currently negotiating with other pharmaceutical companies, and further announcements are expected in November, Woods said.

“The agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech is the first of a number of negotiations underway as part of our portfolio approach, and good progress is being made in relation to other purchasing negotiations. The additional agreements will ensure that once the portfolio is completed, we will have sufficient Covid-19 vaccines for the whole population,” Woods said.

“A key aim of our portfolio approach is to ensure we have flexibility and choice when it comes to securing the right vaccines for New Zealand and our Pacific neighbours,” Woods said.

It has yet to be decided who would receive the first available vaccines.

“Work at the Ministry of Health is currently underway to determine what an immunisation programme roll-out might look like. A number of factors will influence who will receive what vaccines and when, such as trial data on the suitability of each vaccine for certain age groups,” Hipkins said.

A fund of $66.3 million has been established to ensure Aotearoa is ready for a Covid-19 immunisation programme as soon as there is a vaccine.