New Zealand will consider whether to incorporate AstraZeneca in its fight against COVID-19 after the vaccine received regulator sign-off.
The country’s national drug regulator, Medsafe, has approved three vaccines for use in New Zealand – Pfizer, Janssen and AstraZeneca.
However, Jacinda Ardern’s government has committed solely to Pfizer for its initial vaccination program.
Ms Ardern has pledged that every consenting Kiwi will receive at least their first jab of the two-dose treatment in 2021.
“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,” associate health minister Ayesha Verrall said.
While the drug may not be folded into New Zealand’s rollout, it is central to plans to vaccinate the Pacific.
New Zealand has pledged millions of doses to its lesser developed Pacific neighbours, and plans to do so with the less logistically-challenging AstraZeneca vaccine.
Unlike the Pfizer COVID shot, which requires refrigeration at very low temperatures, AstraZeneca can be stored at fridge-like levels.
New Zealand signed a deal with AstraZeneca for 7.6 million doses – enough for 3.8 million people – in 2020.
Medsafe has cleared the vaccine for use in adults above 18 years of age.