CategoryNew Zealand

New Zealand making ‘huge progress’ in vaccinations, experts say


New Zealand is making “huge progress” on Covid-19 vaccinations with nearly a quarter of the country fully vaccinated, experts say.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Sunday that 73 per cent of New Zealanders over the age of 40 had either received their first vaccination or were booked in to get a jab.

On Saturday there were 52,206 doses administered nationally. More than 2.75 million doses of the vaccine had been given since the roll-out began; 1.75 million first doses and just under one million were second doses.

“New Zealand is making huge progress on vaccinations. You look at the numbers, it’s the proportion of people who have been fully vaccinated or who have had one or more dosages … that’s real progress.”

He said the country was on track to have everyone vaccinated by the end of the year.

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’: New Zealand welcomes border reopening plans

New Zealand’s much-awaited, albeit cautious, roadmap for reopening its borders has given businesses and families a taste of hope for the future, though health experts warn that it is dependent on improving the country’s vaccination strategy to reach vulnerable communities.

The prime minister Jacinda Ardern laid out the reopening plans at a forum in Wellington on Thursday, 17 months after borders closed in March 2020.

Ardern indicated that, all going well, vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries will be allowed to skip quarantine and enter the country early next year. Travellers from medium-risk countries would undertake some form of self-isolation or a shorter stay in a quarantine hotel, while MIQ would still be required for those coming from high-risk countries, or those who are unvaccinated.

The proposals are contingent on an accelerated vaccine rollout in the next few months as the country seeks to avoid the lockdowns that are currently taking place in Australia.

Business leader and former chief executive of Air New Zealand Rob Fyfe said he felt encouraged that the strategy was “a clear signal of intent to open up”.


Two million vaccine doses administered in New Zealand


People aged 55 and up will be able to book vaccines from Friday, five days earlier than planned, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

He also says New Zealand’s rollout of the Pfizer vaccine has reached the two-million mark, with 2,021,024 doses given by midnight last night.

Chris Hipkins and joint head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine Megan Main have given a coronavirus and vaccine update this afternoon.

Yesterday was a record day for vaccinations with more than 42,000 inoculations, and DHBs continuing to track more than 3 percent ahead of the plan, Hipkins says.

Second doses have been given to 769,700 New Zealanders.

New Zealands’s first mass vaccination event to be held in Auckland at end of July


The country’s first mass Covid-19 vaccination event will be held in south Auckland at the end of the month.

On Wednesday, Covid-19 Response Health Minister Chris Hipkins announced the event will be held at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, over the weekend of Friday, July 30 to Sunday, August 1.

More than 15,000 people are set to be vaccinated over those three days, Hipkins said. Another mass vaccination event will be held six weeks later for second doses.

It comes after a mass vaccination event at the centre planned earlier this month was postponed due to tight supply of the vaccine.

New Zealand reaches 100 days without community transmission


New Zealand has reached 100 days without community transmission of Covid-19, following the news that there are no new cases outside managed isolation and quarantine on Tuesday.

The 100-day time period spans Sunday, February 28 to June 8, according to community case details on the Ministry of Heath’s website.

New Zealand is just two days off from beating the previous milestone.

One in 20 Kiwi adults now fully vaccinated, new batch of vaccines arrives


New Zealand continues to outpace its planned vaccine rollout schedule, with more than 668,000 jabs completed as of midnight Tuesday.

Almost 234,000 Kiwis are now fully vaccinated, about 5.6 per cent of the 16+ population.

This is tracking at about 109 per cent of the Government’s plan, associate health Minister Ayesha Verrall said.

New Zealand has generally been its exceeding its plan for the first phases of its vaccine rollout, but Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins has been openly “nervous” about the mass rollout.

COVID-19 vaccines touch down in Australia, New Zealand, inoculations to start


Australia and New Zealand have received their first COVID-19 vaccine deliveries and will begin rolling out inoculations in the coming week, while populous cities of Melbourne and Auckland remained locked down following the emergence of new cases.

“The Eagle has landed,” Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Monday as the first shipment of 142,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech touched down.

Vaccination in Australia will start from Feb. 22.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the first batch of 60,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines had arrived and would undergo safety checks before border workers start receiving vaccinations from Saturday.

“This will be the largest full-scale vaccination campaign in this country’s history,” Ardern said.

“We have purchased enough vaccines to cover all New Zealanders and to do so for free. That includes all those in New Zealand regardless of their visa status,” Ardern said.

Prime Minister gives briefing on vaccination in New Zealand


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will arrive in New Zealand next week, earlier than expected.

Ardern and senior ministers have given a briefing on the country’s coronavirus vaccination programme.

“We should be in a position, providing all goes well, to start vaccinating border workers from next Saturday,” Ardern said.

Over the next two to three weeks, 12,000 workers should be vaccinated, followed by their household contacts. The next priority will be healthcare and essential workers, along with most at-risk groups, in the second quarter of the year.

“It’s going to take all the year to reach everyone,” Ardern said.

Deliveries are expected near weekly, with a batch in the low tens of thousands delivered within the first consignment.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the first batch would be enough to cover all border workers.

“Our advance purchase agreement has us getting just under quarter of a million [courses] in the first quarter. That is going to come in waves.”

The remaining courses will be split of the following two quarters, he said.

Australia posts zero virus cases, state chief calls for ‘Pacific bubble’


Australia recorded a fourth day of zero coronavirus cases on Thursday, prompting the chief of the country’s most populous state to call for a special travel “bubble” with Pacific island nations.

New South Wales has reined in an outbreak in mid-December that prompted a strict lockdown in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, while broader social distancing rules and mandatory mask wearing were imposed for the rest of the city.

Signalling those restrictions were set to be eased next week, Premier Gladys Berejiklien told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper the federal government should consider establishing a travel arrangement with the Pacific.

“There is no reason why we shouldns’t aim to travel to New Zealand or some of the Pacific Islands well within the next 12 months,” Berejiklian said.

The comments come after Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly cautioned about restarting international travel, given the country was in an “envious position” compared to most of the world.

Unlike other countries, Australia has closed its international borders, only allowing its stranded citizens back home.

Pfizer vaccine appears to neutralize a key mutation of Covid variants found in UK, South Africa


A coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech appears to be effective against a key mutation in the more infectious variants of the virus discovered in the U.K. and South Africa, according to a study conducted by the U.S. pharmaceutical giant.

It comes as countries scramble to contain the variants that are significantly more transmissible, with public health experts anxious about the potential impact on inoculation efforts.

The research, published Thursday on preprint server bioRxiv and not yet peer-reviewed, suggested the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine worked to neutralize the so-called N501Y mutation.

The N501Y mutation has been reported in the more infectious variants. It is altering an amino acid within six key residues in the receptor-binding domain — a key part of the spike protein that the virus uses to gain entry into cells within the body.

“These findings are good news for the likely effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against these new variants of SARS-CoV-2,” said Dr. Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand.