The Government has purchased enough of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for every New Zealander, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
The Government has signed an advance purchase agreement for an additional 8.5 million doses on top of what it has already bought, bringing the total order to 10 million – enough for five million people to get the two shots needed to be fully vaccinated.
Ardern said the decision to make Pfizer New Zealand’s primary vaccine provider was based on it being shown to be about 95 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infection.
“Whilst the Pfizer vaccine does need to be kept at ultra-cold temperatures, this challenge is offset by only having to deal with one vaccine, rather than multiple vaccines with multiple protocols. It will simplify our vaccine rollout.
“This purchase marks a significant milestone in New Zealand’s fight against Covid-19. We can take heart that we’ve now secured one of the strongest and more effective tools in the Covid-19 toolkit,” Ardern said.
The additional vaccines are expected to arrive during the second half of the year.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the Ministry of Health was now working with Pfizer on the delivery schedule to ensure a “smooth rollout”.
He said consideration was also being given to how best to use vaccine doses that don’t end up being needed in New Zealand.
“We are working on options for donating surplus doses across our wider portfolio to the Pacific and developing countries worldwide.
“Options could include delaying delivery to New Zealand, in order to free up supply for other countries in the short-term, or donating spare vaccines to other countries”, Hipkins said.
Five new cases in MIQ today
Earlier today the Ministry of Health revealed there were five new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation facilities and no new community cases.
Yesterday the Ministry revealed a new case had been identified in an Air New Zealand crew member during routine surveillance testing.
The crew member went into quarantine, while their household contacts tested negative but remained in isolation at home as a precaution.
The ministry said the case remained symptom-free so public health staff were conservatively considering they may have been infectious since their last negative test on 28 February.
The Ministry said the risk to the public was considered low because the case had limited contact with people and locations as Auckland was in Alert Level 3 at the time.
The person was believed to have been infected overseas shortly before they received a dose of the vaccine. Vaccines require two doses and take weeks to provide maximum protection.
New Zealand’s alert levels dropped at 6am on Sunday morning, with Auckland at Level 2 and the rest of the country at Level 1.