Third COVID-19 vaccine receives provisional approval

New Zealand’s regulatory authority Medsafe has granted provisional approval of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older, Acting Minister for COVID-19 Response Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today.

New Zealand secured 7.6 million doses (enough for 3.8 million people) of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an advance purchase agreement with the company last year.

“The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is one of four purchase agreements we have with pharmaceutical companies for COVID-19 vaccines. We took a portfolio approach to manage the risk that some vaccines might not complete trials or be approved for use in New Zealand,” Dr Ayesha Verrall said.

“We are in a fortunate position to now have three vaccines receive provisional approval. Cabinet is yet to consider whether to use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in New Zealand.

“However this is an important step towards enabling the donation of AstraZeneca from New Zealand to Pacific countries, where we have made commitments.”

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses and is stored at normal fridge temperatures (2 to 8 degrees Celsius). The first delivery could be as early as late August, and officials are working closely with AstraZeneca to confirm delivery schedules.

“Our immunisation plan in New Zealand remains focused on rolling out the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The workforce is ramping up in line with increased deliveries. 

“We are on track to provide two doses of the Pfizer vaccines to everyone in New Zealand who wishes to have one, by the end of this year. No one will miss out,” Dr Ayesha Verrall said.