sign uplog in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

Government says it has signed an agreement for 8.5 million more doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine; Prime Minister says this will 'simplify' rollout of vaccination, which is still planned for second half of year

Government says it has signed an agreement for 8.5 million more doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine; Prime Minister says this will 'simplify' rollout of vaccination, which is still planned for second half of year

The Government's decided to go all-in on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after securing additional doses that will enable the entire population to receive the same vaccine.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government had now signed an advance purchase agreement for an additional 8.5 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate 4.25 million people.

The vaccines are expected to arrive in New Zealand during the second half of the year. 

“This brings our total Pfizer order to 10 million doses or enough for 5 million people to get the two shots needed to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.”

The announcement on Monday represents a change of tack for the the Government and the vaccine strategy.

The Government’s original agreement with Pfizer was for approximately 1.5 million doses, enough to vaccinate 750,000 people.

In addition the Government had late last year said it had agreements for 5 million courses from  Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen; 3.8 million courses from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca; and 5.36 million courses from Novavax.  

When announcing those agreements in December the Government said there were multiple types of vaccine technology that have been used to develop Covid-19 vaccines "and the strategy has been to purchase different types of technology, to ensure if some are found in development or in trials not to be a successful option then other alternatives will be available".

Ardern said on Monday that the decision to now make Pfizer New Zealand’s primary vaccine provider, "was based on the fact the Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be about 95% effective at preventing symptomatic infection".

"It also means all New Zealanders will have the chance to access the same vaccine.

"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 roll out."

Ardern said the 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."

With every person who gets vaccinated, "New Zealand gets one step closer to moving away from restrictions to manage Covid-19".

Ardern indicated that in terms of its orders for vaccines other than the Pfizer one, it may delay purchase and delivery of some of these into 2022, though NZ will likely take on some of the other vaccines to provide options for "certain individuals".

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the Ministry of Health is now working with Pfizer on a delivery schedule for the additional Pfizer vaccines, "which will ensure a smooth rollout and a scaling up of our vaccination programme as we start to immunise the general public from the middle of the year".

Hipkins said consideration is 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.

“We are committed to ensuring that any doses not needed here are put to good use elsewhere. 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.

“We are also working closely with the Realm countries of Niue, Tokelau, and the Cook Islands, as well as our close neighbours Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu to provide access to our vaccine portfolio and provide wider support for vaccine roll-out,” Hipkins said.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

27 Comments

This mostly seems like a PR move to me, trying to get on the bandwagon of Pfizer vaccine being much more effective than the others, when in reality while it is more effective, the other ones aren't so bad as to not be worth doing.

I believe the pfizer vaccine is also among the most expensive ones - it seems pricing differs per country, but EU prices in US$ Pfizer costs $14.70 per dose, Moderna $18, Johnson & Johnson $8.50 and AstraZeneca $2.15 per dose. All are double-dose regimes except J&J, so double those prices for a full immunization

IMO they should have stuck with AstraZeneca, as it's working fine in the UK and it only needs to be stored and distributed in the same manner as flu vaccines are.

10
up

I tend to disagree. I think there's enough of a perception of the pfizer and moderna vaccines being superior that this is a good way to smooth vaccine uptake, rather than having to try to convince people that AZ/ox is good enough and deal with people trying to dodge that and shop for the others.

I would go the other way. While I'll take either vaccine, whichever is available first. The pfizer/biontech vaccine is the first mRNA vaccine licensed for use on humans, so there haven't been the large scale studies of long term side effects. Whereas the Oxford/AstraZeneca one from what I'm aware uses a more tried and true mechanism, so in theory there is less risk there. But given the "shopping around" going on overseas, it does seem sensible to offer just one vaccine, even if we could get the country vaccinated faster by taking whatever we could get our hands on first.

From what we know so far, both are excellent vaccines and I don't think you should be hesitant to take either as the effects of catching Covid are much worse.

Also the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine has been show to be quite effective against mutants.

Having a reaction to a vaccine is no bad thing, it shows your body is probably producing antibodies against the injected antigen. I would be more concerned with having no reaction because you would not be sure if you had developed antibodies and effective immunological resistance.

Depends on how bad the reaction is. Some people would like a choice of vaccine so no choice may mean less uptake. Also there is some resistance to the RNA tech

Seems like the others will still be available for some people, just not widely rolled out. So I'd guess that if you really want the AZ and not pfizer that you can manage that.

"Having a reaction to a vaccine is no bad thing"....just let that sink in

Do your species not have immune responses?

Great news. I was really hesitant about accepting the Astrazeneca jab. It is pretty ineffective against the emerging strains. Would we get the chance of a more effective vaccine later if we had received the Astrazeneca vaccine and if so would the first vaccination undermine the effectiveness of the second.

There are trials ongoing but so far it appears that you can have both without impairing effectiveness.

So another 6 months of waiting for the next lockdown week on week. Own goal.

The Johnson&Johnson ("Janssen") vaccine is a good solution for countries where the virus is circulating but the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine (or other two-shot vaccine) is the right one for New Zealand.

Just don't order it from within the EU, they'll steal vaccine orders like they did Australia.

The EU specifically have a problem with AstraZeneca, they believe that AstraZeneca aren't following the terms of a contract the EU signed with them and they've delivered less than half of the doses they expected, meanwhile they're exporting to countries like Australia that don't have a COVID-19 problem anywhere nearly as bad as Europe.

All of these contracts are 'best efforts', not fixed. I'm very pro-EU but they cocked up the vaccination procurement and have now resorted to requisition.

First in the queue? Or last...

The queue, being french for "tail", must be the last

There is a major supply and manufacturing problem not to mention the 'War' btw the EU & US for supply.

Another big waste of money coming up with expired vaccines. Perhaps a good idea would be to get considerably less than required then order more later on if needed. Perhaps do some accurate polls as to what percentage of the population will actually take it because it sure is not 100%. The vaccines are also improving all the time so I think I will take a hospital pass on the Gen 1 stuff.

Its a pittance compared to the cost of Covid or another lockdown. Get plenty of the good stuff and plenty of alternatives no point saving a few bucks on this.

Amen, 5mill jabs @ (2 x $15) = $150 million. Plus freight, logistics and distribution = bargain.

On going lockdowns + ongoing fusterclucks = priceless.

That's when business skills would be helpful. Unbelievable how naive this country is run.

I would favour us purchasing more than one vaccine. Given the speed that these things have been put out, it seems wise to go for a bit of diversity in case there are any issues. And no, I'm not an anti-vaxxer.

It is one giant experiment giving everyone the same RNA vaccine. A real she'll be right moment. Not sure if the ACC Vaccine Injury compensation payment would cover any long term problems.

PR announcement classic.
When criticised for non delivery - make an announcement - but delivery still distant.

There's a few people commenting here that seriously need to take a look at Brazil and be thankful.

Extremely well said

The real truth obviously required some Shane Warne level spin. But put that aside. The government is now committing to START vaccinating the majority of people from mid year and be completed by years end. Forget that many other OECD countries will have achieved heard immunity via vaccinations by mid year. Say we start June 1st. 6 months to give 3 million people 2 doses of vaccine. 6 million jabs required. 33 thousand jabs every day for 186 days . Waiting to see that plan.