New Zealand makes Pfizer its primary vaccine supplier after AstraZeneca jab concerns

New Zealand’s government has announced it has bought enough Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer to inoculate its entire population following concerns about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca jab, which the country initially ordered.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the order from Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday, after increasing the country’s original request from 1.5 million doses to 10 million doses, enough to vaccinate the entire nation against Covid-19.

“This brings our total Pfizer order to 10 million doses or enough for 5 million people to get the two shots needed to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” Ardern said.

The new batch of vaccines from Pfizer is expected to be delivered to New Zealand in the second half of 2021.

The New Zealand prime minister explained that the government had decided to shift to Pfizer as its main vaccine provider after trial data showed the jab was 95 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infection.

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Previously, the New Zealand government had picked AstraZeneca to supply the majority of its vaccines, ordering 7.6 million doses from the company, but has since changed its approach after trial results found it only provides minimal protection against new strains of the virus.

University of Auckland associate professor Helen Petousis-Harris explained that the decision was taken because the data was “not the news we were looking for,” and warned the government “to be prepared to adapt to whatever the virus throws at us.”

New Zealand isn’t the only country to halt its use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after “disappointing” trial results. Despite buying 10 million Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca, South Africa has stopped using it in its vaccine rollout because data showed it did “not work against mild and moderate illness” from Covid-19, choosing to give away their leftover, unused supply.

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