More Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines to arrive Friday

Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced more than a quarter of a million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive on Friday. 

The deal aims to help the country keep up with high vaccination rates.

The doses are currently in the air and are on their way from Spain. They are in addition to scheduled deliveries. 

Ardern said the doses had taken off at 1am NZT and admitted she had been monitoring the flight via a flight tracker.

A second deal for an even larger order from another country is being worked on and Ardern said she would be able to release details of this in the next week or so. 

"It’s been heartening to see so many New Zealanders getting vaccinated recently and the additional doses that we have purchased from Spain will help us provide additional capacity and walk-in sites through September," Ardern said in a statement. 

"We’re vaccinating well ahead of plan and these additional vaccines will ensure we can continue to ramp up our vaccination programme.

"The Spanish shipment is in addition to New Zealand’s regular weekly delivery from Pfizer which is also expected this weekend.

"We expect to receive a total of 1.8 million doses from Pfizer throughout the month of September, in addition to the doses purchased from Spain. This means we don’t have any plans to slow down the rollout."

Ardern said she was "deeply grateful" to Spain for selling the extra doses to New Zealand. 

She said on busy days since the Delta outbreak began, New Zealand had been vaccinating more people per capita than countries like the UK, US, Australia and Canada had done at the peak of their roll-outs.

Ardern said 89 per cent of those aged 65 and over had received one dose to date, while 77 per cent of those 40 and over had also had one dose. 

But what was "really heartening" was since September 1, 64 per cent of those aged 12 and over had received their first dose. 

Ardern said high vaccination rates were part of New Zealand's path to reopening its border and she wanted to see people vaccinated as she hates the idea of even one preventable death from Covid-19. 

She pointed out 121 of the cases in the outbreak in the last three weeks were under 9.

With children under 12 unable to be vaccinated at this stage, she said they needed the rest of the country to be vaccinated. 

Ardern had signalled earlier this week she would be making a vaccine announcement.

 Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted his country was "committed to universal access to vaccines against Covid-19".

"This is one more example of the strong ties between New Zealand and Spain, strategic partners in advancing global values. We keep moving forward together [Jacinda Ardern]," he wrote.

Why Spain?

Ardern said there were numerous factors that led to the decision to purchase vaccines from Spain. 

"I don’t think it’s fair to describe any place in the world, necessarily, as having surplus doses. It’s a matter of different places in the world being at different stages of their vaccine rollouts."

She said countries around the world would want to maximise the use of existing doses as much as possible. 

When making a decision about which country to buy vaccine doses from, Ardern said New Zealand needed to consider how it could help "maximise the utilisation of those doses", while also keeping in mind where the doses were manufactured so it could closely match what Medsafe has approved. 

"There was some leader-to-leader engagement and I don’t think that was necessarily determinative. 

"But, it just so happened there were relationships there that meant that I could have those conversations and did so. That sometimes just, possibly — I can’t say either way — but possibly speeds things up," Ardern said.