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.