COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy

The COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy sets out the Government's mission to ensure that New Zealand has access to safe and effective vaccines as early as possible.

About the Strategy

The COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy has several strands. It ensures that we are:

  • Connecting globally to contribute to all aspects of vaccine development, distribution and use
  • Investing in 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 agreements to secure supply where possible.

A domestic and international response

In May this year, the Government made an initial allocation of $37 million to the COVID-19 vaccine strategy, which has been allocated as follows:

  • $15 million for international research collaboration:
  • $10 million to support research in New Zealand and contribute to global efforts:
  • $5 million has been allocated to support manufacturing capability in New Zealand:
    • BioCell(external link) has received $3 million to upgrade their facilities to manufacture commercial quantities of COVID-19 vaccines, if and when New Zealand obtains the rights to manufacture a successful COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
    • This would potentially meet New Zealand’s needs for the manufactured vaccine, and also make a valuable contribution to global supply.
  • $7 million in official development assistance will go to the vaccine alliance, Gavi(external link), which distributes vaccines to developing countries.

Additional funding to progress the COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy

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.

COVAX Facility

The government has invested $27 million in COVID-19 vaccine development through the COVAX Facility, a global initiative to distribute safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, including to New Zealand and the Pacific.

As part of the agreement, New Zealand will have the option to purchase successful COVID-19 vaccines, for up to 50 percent of the population of New Zealand and the Realm (Tokelau, Cook Islands and Niue).

Advance Purchase Agreements

Securing COVID-19 vaccines through Advance Purchase Agreements with pharmaceutical suppliers is one of the strands of the COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy. Investing early in the process will enable access to promising vaccine candidates.

The government has entered into the following agreements for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines. All agreements are subject to the vaccines successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand before they will be provided to the community.

Visit the Medsafe website for more information about the evaluation and approval process(external link)

Pfizer and BioNTech

An agreement has been signed with Pfizer and BioNTech for the supply of 1.5 million doses of vaccine (enough for 750,000) to New Zealand. This is an mRNA vaccine and requires Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) storage at -70 degrees Celsius.

Janssen Pharmaceutica

An in-principle agreement has been signed with Janssen Pharmaceutica to purchase up to 5 million COVID-19 vaccines. The Janssen vaccine is likely to be a single dose vaccine. The viral vector vaccine is fridge stable (2-8 degrees Celsius) and is likely to be compatible with existing storage and distribution channels.

University of Oxford and AstraZeneca

An agreement has been signed with University of Oxford and AstraZeneca to purchase 7.6 million doses of vaccine (enough for 3.8 million people). The viral vector vaccine is fridge stable (2-8 degrees Celsius) and is likely to be compatible with existing storage and distribution channels.

Novavax

An agreement has been signed with Novavax to purchase 10.72 milion doses of vaccine. This vaccine requires two doses and will therefore be enough for 5.36 million people. Novavax is a protein subunit vaccine is fridge stable (2-8 degrees Celsius) and likely to be compatible with existing storage and distribution channels.

COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy Taskforce

The COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy Taskforce consists of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Health and its regulatory agency Medsafe, PHARMAC, Treasury and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Science and Technical Advisory Group (STAG)

The Taskforce is supported with independent expert advice from the Science and Technical Advisory Group (STAG), which includes representatives from across the science and research community.

The STAG is responsible for providing scientific and technical advice to the Taskforce on the development and manufacturing of vaccines. They also assist in making judgments about likely safety and effectiveness while vaccine candidates are in development and full safety information is unavailable.

In particular, the STAG ensures that:

  • The direction of the COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy is consistently informed by up-to-date scientific and technical information
  • The COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy is executed within a broad understanding of the scientific and technical context as it applies to New Zealand, including capturing a range of scientific perspectives
  • The Taskforce has access to its own source of scientific advice when it is required.

Members of the Science and Technical Advisory Group

Last updated: 22 December 2020