More than half a million people will be vaccinated against COVID-19 under the new deal by the Government. The financial implications of the deal were not made public. The Government of New Zealand has engaged pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and German BioNTech to provide COVID-19 vaccines for 750000 people.
The deal is contingent on the commercial viability of the vaccine. Added to the commercial viability, it has to pass regulatory requirements and clinical trials.
Under the deal, a total of 1.5 million vaccines will move to New Zealand. Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins are working very closely to keep the country safe. Woods says that the government machinery is working hard to keep the country safe amidst this global crisis.
According to them, more companies are in the loop, so that vaccines can be secured for the whole population. The first iteration will see 1.5 million of these vaccines administered to roughly half as many people. This is because 2 vaccines are needed to make a person immune.
Added to this, the vaccines will not be ready any time soon. The tentative timeline for the vaccine delivery is Q1 2021. Hipkins says that this first batch will be the first of many, and they would not stop until all of New Zealand is safe.
COVID-19 Immunization Program
Ms. Woods added that they are in close contact with the concerned companies, and vaccine progress is good. Moreover, the COVID-19 vaccine has to pass relevant clinical and regulatory guidelines on top of the Medsafe approval in New Zealand. The Q1 2021 deadline will only be met if all goes according to plans, and there are no unexpected hurdles.
The criteria for vaccine distribution is still not clear. Earlier, the Covax Facility and the Government entered into a $27 million agreement that allows the country to go through potential vaccine suppliers.
The ministry of health is still working on devising a mass Immunization program but still needs a lot of data for it. To design such a campaign, it is important to know what the cost of the vaccine is, what it looks like, and how effective they are in different age groups.
As soon as the suppliers get a green signal for the vaccine, New Zealand will make use of the already allocated $66.3 million in funds to support the Immunization drive.
This enormous amount will provide medical supplies and build infrastructure to ensure that New Zealand can make the best use of the vaccine.
Hipkins and his ministry have worked on this a lot and have broken down the funds into respective categorical expenses. They believe that most of the expenditure will relate to PPE, needles, syringes, swabs, and freezers to store a vaccine.
The Threat From Second Wave
Global coronavirus cases have been climbing again for a second time. Populated countries like India did not report many cases while the world was going through the first wave of coronavirus spread. But now, infection rates across these countries are off the charts.
The second wave is upon everyone as the economy tries to become functional again. Businesses and schools are reopening. Treated individuals who consider themselves immune should be careful too, as there are emerging cases of reinfection.
According to a study, the reinfection case shows that the second infection was symptomatically more severe than the first one. Efforts like the one by the Government of New Zealand are welcome, but individuals should themselves be more responsible. Follow simple practices and adhere to social distancing protocols to keep yourself and those around you safe.