Jacinda Ardern has secured enough COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate every New Zealander, as well as enough to provide free doses to neighbouring pacific island nations, should they want them.
The New Zealand government announced last week it has advance purchased two additional vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax, meaning the country will have more than enough to supply to Tokelau, Niue, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa and Tuvalu.
“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 today complement our other purchases, and are compatible with existing infrastructure and storage facilities in New Zealand.
“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 neighbours.”
Ardern said it would be New Zealand’s largest vaccination roll out ever, and that first priority will be given to border works and essential staff who are at the greatest risk of getting COVID-19. She expects these doses to be rolled out in the second quarter of 2021, with the aim of vaccinating the general public in the second half of next year.
“Our plan is to ensure no-one misses out, even if it means we’ve purchased more than we need. It’s an investment worth making,” Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods said.
Of course, New Zealand has secured enough #Covid19 vaccines for its population of 5 million & for its neighbors in Polynesia & Pacific Islands.— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) December 17, 2020
And it will be free. Jacinda Ardern making announcement: pic.twitter.com/BP9abR7e95
New Zealand remains one of only a handful of countries to have contained the coronavirus outbreak, recording just 25 deaths from the disease to date.
Meanwhile in Australia, the Christmas break is looking much bleaker and more complicated than many had been expecting, as Sydney navigates a COVID-19 outbreak on the Northern Beaches. The outbreak has thrown millions of people’s Christmas plans into chaos across the country with state and territory border closures, and tensions are running high.
On Sunday, as Premiers across the country held press conferences updating their states on new restrictions in response to the outbreak, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was quite noticeably absent. Some had speculated Morrison may have been on holidays, which he later denied, saying he was still in Canberra.
On Sunday afternoon, Morrison released a short video via social media, saying the outbreak is a reminder we can’t be complacent, and we should always be on alert.
Imagine if there was somebody who could work across all the states and territories to drive some stronger communication between premiers. Imagine that.— Angela Priestley (@angelapriestley) December 20, 2020
Elsewhere, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has called for an emergency national cabinet meeting, involving state and federal leaders, in order to coordinate a national response to the Sydney outbreak.
There has been no public response from Morrison to the suggestion.