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AstraZeneca vaccine provisionally approved for NZ – Expert Reaction

New Zealand’s medicines regulator Medsafe has given the provisional green light to the AstraZeneca vaccine, making it the third Covid-19 vaccine approved for use among NZ’s adult population.

The viral vector vaccine is one of four purchase agreements the government has made with pharmaceutical companies. Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said the country’s immunisation plan remains focused on rolling out the Pfizer mRNA vaccine.

The SMC asked experts to comment on the news.

Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen (Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Hinerangi), Clinical Director, National Hauora Coalition, comments:

“AstraZeneca vaccine approval gives New Zealand additional opportunities to ramp up our vaccination programme. The vaccine might be especially useful for some specific population cohorts and thus give us greater population coverage. Consideration should include the opportunity for AstraZeneca-Pfizer ‘mix and match’ regimes.”

No conflicts of interest.

Professor David Murdoch, Dean and Head of Campus, University of Otago, Christchurch, comments:

“The approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine gives us more options in the future. The focus is still on using the Pfizer vaccine, but the provisional approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine gives us greater flexibility.”

Conflict of interest statement: Member, COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group, Ministry of Health; Member, Advisory Group, Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (VAANZ); Independent Member, Clinical Trials Steering Committee, University of Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine; Member, COVID-19 Expert Advisory Network, Ministry of Health; Member, Strategic COVID-19 Public Health Advisory Group, New Zealand Government.