Sunday, April 21, 2024

NZ to supply COVID-19 vaccines to Pacific neighbours

New Zealand will provide COVID-19 vaccines for rollout in the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau from May 19.

“This continues our ongoing commitment to support our Pacific neighbours through the increased challenges the COVID-19 pandemic is placing upon our region,” Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta said.

“By working closely with our Pacific neighbours, and other partners, we can provide a further line of defence for our entire region – better protecting us all against the impact of the pandemic which continues to rage across the world,” she said.

“New Zealand is working with the Realm countries to ensure that everything is in place for the countries to receive and administer safe and effective vaccines at the earliest possible time. This work begins with the Cook Islands’ May rollout, which is expected to take 12 weeks to complete, with Niue and Tokelau to follow,” Associate Health and Foreign Affairs Minister, Aupito William Sio said.

He said the delivery of vaccines to the Realm countries wouldn’t impact the planned New Zealand domestic rollout.

Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu have started their vaccine rollouts with doses received from the global COVAX Facility. Each will also be able to receive enough additional doses from New Zealand’s own portfolio to fully cover their population, as well as any further support they might need for their vaccine rollout. In addition, Fiji has taken up the offer of AstraZeneca doses for 250,000 people donated by New Zealand, subject to Medsafe approval.

“New Zealand is following up its commitment to equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines by donating enough for 800,000 people through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment. These doses will go to developing countries, with a focus on the Pacific,” Minister Sio said.

“In total, this means New Zealand will be providing protection against COVID-19 to at least 1.2 million people in the Pacific over the coming year.”

New Zealand is also partnering with Australia and UNICEF to procure further vaccines for the Pacific and providing other targeted support where necessary.

“To support Papua New Guinea with its COVID-19 outbreak, New Zealand is providing $4 million to help fund its vaccine rollout, medical equipment for a COVID-19 field hospital in Port Moresby and logistical air support to get health staff, PPE and vaccines to remote areas of PNG,” Minister Mahuta said.

Ms Mahuta also announced New Zealand was providing further support to assist economic recovery in the Pacific.

“New Zealand’s further economic support to Pacific countries will help them respond to the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and move towards long-term economic resilience, the Ministers said. To this end, $120 million in Official Development Assistance has been reprioritised to support Pacific economies in 2021.

“The economic disruption affecting many countries in the Pacific, particularly those that have tourism-focused economies, is unprecedented. This funding will be used by our Pacific neighbours to help households get through this crisis, and support businesses to manage the uncertainty of closed borders,” the Minister said.

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