Government confirms in-principle agreement to purchase enough Covid-19 vaccine for the whole population

Government confirms in-principle agreement to purchase enough Covid-19 vaccine for the whole population

The Government has confirmed an "in-principle" agreement to buy enough Covid vaccines for the whole population.

The agreement, with Janssen Pharmaceutica, a division of pharma giant Johnson & Johnson, is for up to 5 million vaccines. This is likely to be a single-dose vaccine.

The terms of the deal are for the first doses, up to 2 million of them, to be delivered from the third quarter of 2021.

This news, announced by Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods, follows on from the recent announcement that the Government would purchase 1.5 million doses of vaccine – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine could possibly be delivered in the first quarter of next year.

Also on Thursday, the day on which mask wearing became mandatory on Auckland public transport and on planes, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, said new testing measures were being put in place to increase the safety of border workers and further strengthen New Zealand’s barriers against Covid-19. The rules extend testing to workers not previously covered and increase the frequency of testing for some higher risk workers.

Woods said the fact the Janssen vaccine was likely to be a single-dose vaccine means "it may potentially be more efficient to administer”.

The vaccine is currently in phase 3 trials. Results from the first two phases apparently found that a single dose of the vaccine showed a good immune response in humans.

This is the announcement from Woods:

The Government has confirmed an in-principle agreement to purchase up to 5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 5 million people – from Janssen Pharmaceutica, subject to the vaccine successfully completing clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, says Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods.

“This agreement forms part of our portfolio approach to ensure that we have the ability to access a range of vaccine options, if and when a suitable vaccine is developed and approved,” says Megan Woods.

“It is an initial agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica, and we expect a formal advance purchase agreement to be finalised in coming weeks.

“The agreement with Janssen would see the first doses – up to 2 million – delivered from the third quarter of 2021. We have the option to purchase up to 3 million additional doses, which would be delivered throughout 2022.

“A key point of difference for the Janssen vaccine is that it’s likely to be a single-dose vaccine and is compatible with standard vaccine distribution channels, so it may potentially be more efficient to administer.”

Megan Woods said Janssen, along with its parent company Johnson & Johnson, have a very strong track record producing safe and effective pharmaceutical products for use globally and in New Zealand.

“This gives us confidence in their ability to develop, manufacture and deliver a safe and effective vaccine,” Megan Woods said

This announcement follows the Government’s recent agreement to purchase 1.5 million doses of vaccine – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, and works alongside other aspects of the COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy, including membership of the global COVAX Facility.

Megan Woods said negotiations with other pharmaceutical companies are progressing well.

“The COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy Taskforce are working to ensure that additional agreements are in place to complete the vaccine portfolio. Our main priority is to make sure New Zealand and our Pacific neighbours have access to safe and effective vaccines.

The Ministry of Health is preparing for a range of vaccine scenarios and how best to sequence the delivery of vaccines once supply becomes available. Three broad considerations are being explored:

  • Those at risk of contracting COVID-19
  • Those at risk of spreading COVID-19
  • Those at risk of increased morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19.

Ensuring equity of outcomes, including protection for Māori, Pacific peoples and our most vulnerable population groups, such as older people, disabled people, health workers, essential workers and border staff are some of our primary considerations in the availability of vaccines.

And this is the announcement from Hipkins:

New testing measures are being put in place to increase the safety of border workers and further strengthen New Zealand’s barriers against COVID-19, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

“These strengthened rules – to apply to all international airports and ports – build on the mandatory testing orders we’ve been implementing since August and will make our border safety even stronger. They are the latest steps in the Government’s extensive and ongoing programme to develop and refine our COVID-19 response,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The rules extend testing to workers not previously covered and increase the frequency of testing for some higher risk workers

“They include:

·Increasing the frequency of testing for ship pilots and some other port workers who carry out work on affected ships, from fortnightly to weekly,

·Increasing testing frequency for some workers who carry out work on aircraft that have arrived from outside of New Zealand, from fortnightly to weekly.

·Mandatory fortnightly testing for port workers not already covered,

·Mandatory fortnightly testing for airport airside and landside workers not already covered who interact with international arriving or transiting passengers,

“This Order, the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Required Testing) Amendment Order (No 3) 2020, also clarifies the expectations of both employers and employees who are subject to the mandatory testing orders.

“Employers will be expected to keep records about their employees’ testing requirements and their compliance, and facilitate employee testing. Employees will be expected to provide information to their employers for record-keeping purposes,” Chris Hipkins said.

“I’d like again to pay tribute to the people who work at our ports and airports and managed isolation and quarantine facilities. They are some of the real heroes of our COVID-19 response.

“Our border workers are among the most scrutinised and tested people in the country.

They are doing an incredible job, day in and day out, keeping COVID-19 out of our community. In return, we must do everything we can to keep them safe.”

These requirements come into force from midnight on 26 November 2020.

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Let's vaccinate our entire country with a vaccine that's been rushed through testing, what could go wrong? She'll be right!

They all have to be approved locally before being administered. What is your alternative, keep the borders closed a few years and see how it works out for other countries?

So what happens to the naysayers who don’t vaccinate? If they continue to get infected and infect others, will NZ still have the cost of quarantining them or will just self isolation at home be sufficient and for those that might still end up in hospital, what cost and pressure will that put on other vital services.

What happens to those that got vaccinated but still caught covid?

Aye that’s the point. The virus will still be out and about. The vaccine is not an overnight panacea to the issue in NZ let alone globally. It will be a long time before humans are back to pre CV19 status, if ever.

Herd immunity will prevent it from spreading far.

The big problem with COVID has always been hospitals being overloaded because everyone was susceptible. Once herd immunity is around, the number of people getting ill and hotspots developing will be far fewer, so hospitals will be able to cope with the load.

Couple that with improved treatments for those who do contract COVID and life should be relatively back to normal within 5 years.

Covid is only one really believe covid is a once in a lifetime event?

Not sure what your question has to do with my reply.

What currently happens to the non-vaccinators? Or would Covid be an exception?
Measles anyone?

There's going to be so much pressure to get vaccinated, going to be interesting to see how this plays out when the vaccine arrives.

Indeed. So is our health minister or Covid minister working on this right now I wonder.

A big issue around the first lockdown was the legality of it.
Goodness knows how they'll manage to enforce a vaccination on each individual here. Or penalise those who don't, given for example all the associated costs around people who fail to not drink-drive, wear seatbelts, wear helmets, follow health and safety directives, etc etc which are borne by all of us.

There won't be any forced vaccination. The remedy for forced vaccination is getting sick. My sister in law is an anti vaxer, went on holiday to Fiji last year and got the kids vaccinated. Apparently all good to hide in the herd in NZ but when you want to lay in the sun while gambling your kids lives the anti-vax stance is no longer a priority.

Depends what your definition of 'forced' is.

In Australia your kids can't go to public school if they are healthy candidates for vaccination and haven't been.

There will be some workplaces in NZ that require employees to be vaccinated I expect (such as those in aged-care).

Forced is held down while someone takes a swab. No different from people required to take a drug test to operate heavy machinery, they can refuse and work somewhere else.

The worry I have as someone who doesn't want to be at the front of the queue to get a shot is that those who choose not to get vaccinated right away might find themselves excluded from all sorts of things and perhaps even shunned in settings as varied as sports teams, employment, social groups etc.

I don’t see why. If you don’t want Covid then get the vax. That will be enough for 90% of the population, and enough for the virus to die out. Maybe enforced for people entering the country.

Given the choice between covid and an experimental vaccine I'd take the vaccine.

I caught it a few weeks ago, not the end of the world but it did give me a decent knocking about and I'm young (ish) and fit.

What are the side effects of the vaccine? What are the long term implications for taking the vaccine? You got covid and recovered, like 99% of young and healthy people do.

Umm... you missed one or two 9's that should be on the right of the decimal point. :)

Recovering... still got a ways to go before I'm back to 100%.

Long-term implications of the vaccine (if any) are likely to be far less serious than the long-term implications of catching COVID.

You know this how?

I said it was "likely" to be far less serious. This is because one is a disease known to cause long-term injury to people, and the other is a vaccine, which have gone through multiple safety trials already and is based on science as to how to prime the immune system to fight a virus without causing injury to the person.

If you have any evidence that the long-term implications from a vaccine are likely to be as bad or worse than catching COVID, present it.

Do you have any evidence/facts to support your claims? I was asking questions, I haven't made statements like yourself.

Yes. See the body of scientific literature for vaccines in general.

I said "likely" not "certain", and it is "likely" based on how we know vaccines work.

3.7% of the 40,000 + people in the vaccine group reported feeling "fatigued" after the jab.

Long term predictions of the trial group are cancer, diabetes and obesity (none caused by the vaccine in question).

Nifty - It's 99.98% of people under 69 years old who're fine according the American CDC, and that figure overestimates lethality because the serology studies didn't capture T-cell immune people who'd had the disease but who's antibodies faded away.

What a great waste of money all this is. I guess it gives the government plausible deniability though. Ostensibly they saved us, and it's not that they wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on nothing that a few precautions and some vitamin D tablets couldn't have fixed. It will be an uncomfortable reality when Sweden emerges from a Northern hemisphere winter with little to no excess deaths. Wait for the propaganda around that.

development has been rushed, but what's been rushed on the testing side? I haven't heard of such thing before. I'm thinking of the western vaccines, ignoring the China and Russia here.

While Chinese and Russian vaccines have the geopolitical interest in mind, those developed in the West have the interest of corporations and their shareholders, neither of them has the public interest first, so not sure which one we should trust more to be honest.

How about trusting the regulators?

May come as a shock but many people have a hard time trusting regulatory institutions

That's right - the truth is to be found on youtube...

And beyond the Labour party rhetoric ob1

Those that are accountable. Putin and Xi can tell big porkies without fear of being held to account. Western corporations will be sued for billions and execs will end up in jail if they are caught lying.

If you know anything about vaccines etc, the reason they take so long to come to market normally is cost. No-one wants to front the bill to commit to buying XXX's of a vaccine before launch. In the case of covid, governments are committing to buy, thus pushing these through the manufacturers. The normal "study" period of vaccines is 3-6 months, but can take 5+ years to raise funding to come to market fyi.

If you know anything about vaccines etc, the reason they take so long to come to market normally is cost. No-one wants to front the bill to commit to buying XXX's of a vaccine before launch. In the case of covid, governments are committing to buy, thus pushing these through the manufacturers. The normal "study" period of vaccines is 3-6 months, but can take 5+ years to raise funding to come to market fyi.

Brilliant interview by a highly respected Cambridge educated pathologist here ->

"There is utterly unfounded public hysteria driven by the media and politicians, it’s outrageous, this is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public,” said Hodkinson.

That's a very interesting decision to go with that vaccine and start shipment as late as Q3 of 2021. Of the big pharma efforts Johnson and Johnsons is one of the least well proven because its development has lagged other efforts (they went for developing three different vaccines aiming for a heat stable one shot type deal eventually.)

What'll happen at our borders with vaccinated people? The CEO of BioNTech (partner in Pfizers effort) was talking to German media and indicating they expected to be well underway in the first quarter of next year.

Vaccinated people will still have to undergo quarantine in the same manner as unvaccinated people. The vaccine appears to be meant to mitigate symptoms, not prevent illness (see my article reference below). Dr. Fauci in the US has stated that even if one gets a vaccine, one still has to observe the protocols for transmission reduction.

So this remains the new normal until herd immunity occurs on a global scale?


and that is a mighty big IF (or until) you have there!

The is the second vaccine NZ has a deal to buy.

The first vaccine is the pfizer one, which we expect to begin rolling out in Q1 of next year, but we've only secured enough doses for 750,000 people. It also needs to be transported at -70C and requires 2 doses, which are significant obstacles to distribution.

I suspect the government is probably working to try and get another vaccine for delivery in Q2 of next year.

That makes sense, listening to the German healyh minister it looks like they are concentrating heaving on getting it done rapidly because they have no idea how long it will last. If they had an approach that took 6 months I guess they may well never get to a herd immunity level.

i only trust the vaccine made by China and is now being mass tested in Brazil and Middle East.


Sure mate, I would have only trusted the Chinese Vaccine if I was the grim reaper too :)

I wouldn’t trust China’s bat soup likewise.

some days I think you're aiming for parody xing. thanks for the laugh.

I bought some hand cream and it gave me terrible rash. So I did a quick check to see where it made (in China) and returned it to the Chemist. They gave me a new brand, made in Korea.. perfectly fine now

Umm... one needs to understand just what the vaccines are being tested for. The are NOT being measured by preventing infection by covid, but instead via reduction in symptoms. Read this article.

We all expect an effective vaccine to prevent serious illness if infected. Three of the vaccine protocols—Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca—do not require that their vaccine prevent serious disease only that they prevent moderate symptoms which may be as mild as cough, or headache.

Vaccinate, vaccinate.. my Labrador has his yearly vaccination, he's perfectly and still a very good boy!

my tabby cat and Shih Tzu do as well.

Lucky you have a Lab...

I think attention is quickly going to come around to the scale that they will have to make COVID vaccines, once they fully pass their testing phases. We will probably need to be making something like 14 billion per year until COVID dies out. These can't be made in a central bank with a keystroke, the physical infrastructure will need to be scaled out to achieve such huge numbers.

Remember - we don't stop making all the current vaccines as well, so that's an additional 14b units a year. And it will probably only need to be temporary. That's quite a big deal, it's good WHO has been working on the problem for some months already.

What's the bet there will be some bullying by the powerful countries as well and less powerful countries won't get the doses they have paid for...

We don’t really need the vaccine here in any hurry, just need to make sure anyone who enters has had it. Maybe some docs to say you have had it then a 3 day quarantine where you must prove to have the vaccine in your system but not the virus.

Why are we buying vaccines when Adrian Orr could just print them?

Well ..if it goes badly wrong, i guess the housing market will be fixed.

How much does it cost? If I had a vaccine I’d want at least $10 billion from NZ. A bargain compared to the cost of not having it.

Travel boom after vaccine? Premium air ticket price.

Good luck with that. As the various vaccines most pointedly are not being rated on covid prevention, but instead symptom mitigation, even after getting a vaccine, one will still have to wear masks, observe social distancing, and most importantly, undergo quarantine after crossing borders. And then, there is the wee little issue as to just how long the vaccine might be effective. I am hoping for years, although it may be just months.

Rather amusingly, Boris Johnson is currently in isolation due to a possible covid exposure. One of the very best "vaccines" is getting and recovering from a virus. If he has to still undergo isolation after a possible exposure, how can anyone expect a vaccine to provide an improved outcome???

Are you sure? The latest one is supposedly 95% effective- does that mean effective of stopping you dying? Having no vaccine is 99% effective at that.

Risk/reward calculation for a fit and young person is to not have the vaccine given its rushed and experimental state, and the extremely low rate of serious illness/complications for those under 50. Opposite is true for the elderly and obese.

Once you have vaccinated the at risk groups, an elimination strategy is mostly pointless as your health system is safe. It becomes just another endemic illness to be managed.

I'm in. We either take the vaccine or spend years and years waiting for more detailed clinical test results while millions die around the world.