The country has ordered 15 million courses of COVID-19 vaccines. It expects to deliver the first vaccines to border workers in the second quarter of 2021, with vaccination of the general population following in the second half of the year.
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).
These join two existing agreements with Pfizer/BioNTech (1.5 million doses or 750,000 courses) and Janssen (5 million courses).
Regulatory approval: Pfizer and Janssen vaccines under rolling review
Given the urgent need for a vaccine, the regulatory process in the country may leverage review by prioritized regulatory bodies abroad such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Medicines Agency and/or Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority in the UK. Medsafe will also be in close contact with its Australian counterpart throughout the authorization process.
Pfizer/BioNTech and Janssen have started rolling applications for their vaccines in New Zealand.
Given that the country currently has no community transmission, the first group in line for immunization would be border workers and MIQ (quarantine) workers; as well as frontline healthcare workers and their household contacts.
New Zealand has also announced $75m ($53.7m USD) of support for Pacific vaccination programs: with its approach being to also purchase enough vaccines to cover the Realm of New Zealand (Tokelau, Niue, Cook Islands) and Polynesian neighbours Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu; should their governments wish to take these up.
“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,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“This will be New Zealand’s largest immunisation roll out ever. Most countries are factoring the roll out to take all of 2021 and some of 2022 to complete due to its scale and complexity, also due to production and delivery timeframes.
“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.
“Our aim is to then commence vaccination of the general public in the second half of the year. All vaccine roll out will be dependent on Medsafe sign off, which we are streamlining, and speed of manufacture.”