'Possible' Covid-19 vaccine could be available in NZ early next year following drug trial progress - Govt

November 13, 2020


A potential new Covid-19 vaccine could be distributed to New Zealanders as early as next year provided it passes regulatory approvals in New Zealand, the Government says.

American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German company BioNTech announced today clinical trials for their Covid-19 vaccine has been found to be 90 per cent effective against the virus.

Developers say "it’s a great day for science and humanity" and it’s hoped it could get the sign off from regulators by the end of the month, with 50 million doses expected to be ready by the end of the year.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods says the news about a potential vaccine is encouraging.

Last month the Government signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech, if the vaccine successfully completed all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand.
“As part of the agreement, vaccine delivery to New Zealand could be as early as the first quarter of 2021,” Woods said in a statement today.
“Provided the vaccine is approved for use in New Zealand by Medsafe, it is possible that some doses will be available to us in the first part of 2021.”
“Medsafe is working to optimise its processes so that any promising vaccines will be fully assessed as quickly as possible against the same criteria used for all other medicines that enter New Zealand.
“Pfizer and BioNTech will keep us up to date as to when data will be available for Medsafe to begin its evaluation process.”

Further negotiations with other pharmaceutical companies about a potential Covid-19 vaccine are still ongoing and announcements on those are expected this month, says Woods.

The Ministry of Health is also developing a sequencing framework to guide the rollout of the vaccines as they become available.

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