COVID-19: Vaccine strategy

New Zealand is part of a global coalition of countries cooperating to find a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible.

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy aims to ensure access to a safe and effective vaccine in order to implement our preferred immunisation programme at the earliest possible time. 

We are proactively following and working collaboratively with the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccines Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) and others about development, testing and availability of vaccine.

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Achieving the Vaccine Strategy aim will contribute to these outcomes:

  • Sufficient supply of a safe and effective vaccine to achieve population immunity to COVID-19, affordably
  • Protection for Māori, Pacific peoples and population groups at particular risk from COVID-19
  • Full cultural, social and economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19
  • Recognition of New Zealand as a valued contributor to global wellbeing and the COVID-19 response
  • New Zealand, Pacific and global preparedness for response to future disease outbreaks

Work strands 

New Zealand’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy has five main strands:

  • 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 acceptable efficacy, quality and safety, support research and enable manufacturing
  • Using purchasing arrangements to secure supply where possible and to enhance resilience

New Zealand also is supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in its efforts towards equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine globally. This support includes a focus on ensuring vaccine access for our Pacific Island partners.

Key initiatives

The Government announced in May 2020 initial investment to enable the COVID-19 vaccine strategy:

  • Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo, a team of local and international experts with proven capability in vaccine research and development, to support COVID-19 vaccine research in New Zealand
  • Auckland biotechnology company Biocell to upgrade its existing facilities, which will boost our local manufacturing capacity to help support global vaccine production
  • International research collaboration, including those managed by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)..
  • Official development assistance for the vaccine alliance, Gavi, which distributes vaccines to developing countries.

On 27 August, the Government announced that additional funding has been set aside within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. This funding will help to secure access to promising vaccine candidates including through:

  • participating in global initiatives such as the COVAX Facility, in which we have already expressed our interest
  • investing early in the vaccine development process
  • using tools like advance purchasing arrangements to enter into early agreements with vaccine developers.

Task force

A COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy Task Force has been established to oversee implementation of the vaccine strategy. The interagency task force consists of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as the lead agency, the Ministry of Health and its regulatory agency Medsafe, PHARMAC, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

A Science and Technical Advisory Group (STAG) supports the task force with expert advice about the vaccine strategy work.

Immunisation programme

The Ministry of Health is developing a COVID-19 immunisation programme in New Zealand, for roll out if and when a safe and effective vaccine becomes available. Ideally, the immunisation programme will achieve sufficient population immunity, and to ensure protection for Māori, Pacific peoples and population groups at particular risk from COVID-19.

Work is underway to prepare for a range of possibilities to deliver an immunisation programme which will be reviewed and adapted as new, relevant information becomes available on vaccine development or the virus itself. 

This preparation includes workforce considerations, timing and delivery options, logistics and supply chain management and technology to support the delivery of an effective immunisation programme.

The Ministry will continue to be guided by expert advice from the World Health Organization and New Zealand expert groups on all aspects of vaccine and immunisation planning

Further information

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