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Progress on COVID-19 vaccine strategy

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister

Hon Dr Megan Woods
Minister of Research, Science and Innovation

The Government has allocated significant extra funding, in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars, to access a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

The specifics of the funding from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund cannot be disclosed due to commercial sensitivity as it could prevent the best possible deal for New Zealanders.

It is in addition to the $37 million vaccine strategy released in May to support domestic and international work.

“Since day dot of this global pandemic, the Government has gone hard and early in our plan to eliminate the virus and work in as many ways as possible to secure a vaccine as soon as it’s available,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
“I’ve been talking to a range of world leaders about global vaccine development, including Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau and Scott Morrison. We are working particularly closely with Australia to ensure we are connected to all parts of vaccine development, distribution and use, as well as our Pacific neighbours to elevate their voices.

“In May we set out our vaccine strategy, which includes contributing to the global effort, actively working with our Australian neighbours, domestic research, and investing in our own manufacturing capability.

“As the World Health Organisation says, vaccine nationalism only helps the virus. Collaboration is our strength and when we find a vaccine, it must be available to everyone,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods said the funding would enable the Government to secure access to promising vaccine candidates, alongside joining initiatives such as the global COVAX Facility.

“Our approach to obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine is different to how we’d usually operate, but these are extraordinary times that warrant new and innovative approaches being used. We need to act early to secure our ability to purchase promising vaccine candidates and are already in conversation with a number of vaccine providers.

“Governments around the world are using purchasing arrangements to secure supply, and this will be a key mechanism for helping New Zealand to gain access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“The Task Force is well-connected with our Australian neighbours, and we are actively working together to get access to a vaccine for our two countries and our Pacific neighbours.

“Global cooperation is crucial because as long as one country or community is at risk, we are all at risk,” Megan Woods said.

Note for editors

Since the Vaccine Strategy was announced in May, the Government has worked hard to contribute to the global effort to prioritise the development and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

• New Zealand has joined CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) Investors’ Council with an initial investment of $15 million towards global research efforts.
• Locally, the Government is investing in COVID-19 vaccine research and manufacturing capability.
• Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo will receive $10 million to lead COVID-19 vaccine research to establish a vaccine development and evaluation platform. This platform will support the development of potential domestic and international COVID-19 vaccines by evaluating the safety and efficacy of vaccine candidates.
• We are also investing in local manufacturing, which may provide us with the ability to contribute to global supply. Biocell will receive $3 million to upgrade existing facilities so that it has the necessary scale to support global vaccine supply. This also provides the potential for New Zealand to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines locally.
• The investments in CEPI, Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo and Biocell are part of the initial $37 million allocation which was announced in May for the national COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy.
• Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo New Zealand is a partnership between the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington which brings together a multidisciplinary team of local and international collaborators with proven capability in vaccine research, development, and scale-up manufacturing.
• Note that the extra funding is from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund (set aside in July) is not part of the $14bn kept in reserve.
COVAX Facility
COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy ensures we are:
• Connecting globally to contribute to all aspects of vaccine development, distribution and use
• Supporting vaccine research that contributes to global efforts, builds relationships and supports early access to a vaccine
• Developing the ability to manufacture in case it is needed to secure supply
• Optimising regulatory approaches to ensure safety, support research and enable manufacturing
• Using purchasing arrangements to secure supply.

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