NZ Covid-19 vaccine strategy: Government provides $37m for development, distribution

A $37 million Covid-19 vaccine strategy announced by the government aims to help national and global efforts to create and distribute a vaccine to fight the coronavirus.

(FILES) In this file photo Dr. Nita Patel, Director of Antibody discovery and Vaccine development, lifts a vial with a potential coronavirus, COVID-19, vaccine at Novavax labs in Rockville, Maryland on March 20, 2020, one of the labs developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, COVID-19.

Photo: AFP

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods, and Health Minister David Clark today announced $37 million had been allocated to the strategy.

They said the strategy would be monitored by government agencies including Medsafe and Pharmac, as well as independent advisors.

Some $10m would go towards research in New Zealand, and a further $5 million was set aside for future production.

“New Zealand has quality researchers and a high performing research, science and innovation sector with a long history of working with colleagues across the globe to tackle complex global problems,” Woods said.

“It’s vital that we contribute to international research efforts as well as ramp up our own research and manufacturing capability.”

More than $20m has been earmarked for international research and to assist organisations which will eventually distribute the vaccine to developing countries.

The government said it would also advocate internationally for the equitable distribution of a future vaccine, with a particular focus on the Pacific.

Malaghan Institute director Professor Graham Le Gros said the long-awaited funding boost was motivating.

“We need to get on with it, we need to make this thing happen as fast and as safely as possible,” he said.

Professor Le Gros had been calling on the government to support research in New Zealand for weeks, and said the funding was well-timed.

“I think we know how to make a much better vaccine against Covid-19 than we did right at the beginning, and those people who are the early starters, they may end up coming up short.

“So I feel we’re in a very strong position now armed with all the knowledge we have to put out a really great vaccine in New Zealand, and also working with people the same as us overseas.”

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