Extra Pfizer vaccines due tomorrow – Expert Reaction

New Zealand has topped up its Covid-19 vaccine supply with more than 250,000 additional doses purchased from Spain to meet high demand for vaccination.

The extra doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are currently en route, due to arrive in Auckland tomorrow morning. PM Jacinda Ardern said the Government expects to receive a total of 1.8 million doses from Pfizer throughout the month of September, in addition to the doses bought from Spain.

The SMC asked experts to comment on the announcement.

Professor Nikki Turner, Director, Immunisation Advisory Centre, University of Auckland, comments:

“A big thank you to all who have managed to secure this extra bridging supply of vaccine. We really have ‘wind in our sails’ now for the immunisation programme and it would really have been disappointing if we had to put the brakes on the programme now, as it has such momentum. It is very impressive to see the current community response to vaccination uptake. Clearly most of our community now has a good understanding of why we need to get as many people as vaccinated as possible. Alongside this, our health sector showing a range and depth of innovative approaches to offering vaccination. Now the challenge is to keep up this momentum and reach out to all our communities, particularly to support those who may have a range of barriers and concerns around vaccination.

“The arrival of the delta variant has really pushed the pace to a new level. Prior to delta, we were in danger of being somewhat complacent that we could fully keep this virus out of New Zealand. What is clear now is that we cannot in the long term keep this virus out completely. However, what we can do is buy ourselves time while we ensure as many New Zealanders gain immune protection via vaccination. The data is very clear now that the vaccine we are using (Comirnaty) remains highly effective against severe disease and death from the delta variant, somewhat less effective against mild and non-symptomatic disease, but still with some effect. Recent USA data shows that vaccinated people have an eight-fold reduction in disease incidence and a 25-fold reduction in hospitalisation and death. When COVID disease does come back into the NZ community, it will be crucial to have high immunisation rates to minimise the impact on our communities and our health services.”

No conflict of interest declared.

Note: The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) has a contract with the Ministry of Health to delivery education and training to the healthcare sector for COVID-19 vaccines.