The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has received promising results from its clinical trials.
New Zealand will initially have access to 1.5 million doses. Our country’s vaccine taskforce has pre-purchased enough of this particular vaccine for 750,000 people. For the vaccine to be effective, each person needs to receive two doses.
Once the vaccine is approved by Medsafe, it will be first given to mainly frontline workers and vulnerable communities. It may be possible to have some doses of the vaccine in the early part of 2021.
The Ministry of Health is developing a process for delivering a tested and effective vaccine. Three broad groups of people are being considered – people who are at greater risk of spreading COVID-19, people with an increased risk of catching the virus, and those with increased risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.
The Government has set aside $66 million to ensure New Zealand is ready to launch a COVID-19 Immunisation Programme as soon as a safe and effective vaccine is available.
Globally, the vaccine’s makers, Pfizer and BioNTech, expect to make enough of the new vaccine for 25 million people this year, and another 650 million next year.
Some vouchers becoming available
Travellers wanting to get to New Zealand in time for Christmas can still have hope as some managed isolation and quarantine vouchers are freed up by the changing travel plans of others.
The complex nature of international travel during this global pandemic means widespread changes to flight schedules, affecting travel plans for people with vouchers for managed isolation facilities.
As people’s plans change, they find their vouchers are no longer required. As a result, we’re starting to see a limited number of vouchers becoming available again.
For example, for a single day in December, there were more than 300 vouchers returned to the system. This re-release will ensure these rooms don’t go to waste.
If you have a voucher you won’t be using, please go onto the MIAS website and cancel your booking as soon as possible so that someone else can get home.
Keep doing the right things
The latest community cases are an important lesson for everyone. If you become unwell, get a test.
Testing quickly means we can reduce the risk of the virus spreading, and that puts us in a good position to contain any outbreak.
Preventing a resurgence of COVID-19 in the community relies on everyone doing their bit. Alert Level One is not ‘alert level none’.
We have beaten outbreaks in the community before and we can do it again, but we all need to be prepared and act now: use the NZ COVID Tracer app, stay home and call about a test if you are sick, and wash your hands regularly.
COVID-19 case update
There is one case of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand today – and it is in managed isolation. There are no community cases.
There are 52 active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. The total number of confirmed cases in 2020 to date is 1,631.
There are now 2,347,700 registered users of the NZ COVID Tracer app.