“Chris Hipkins’ surprising admission on NewstalkZB that the Government isn’t seeking an earlier than scheduled batch of vaccines for front line workers direct from Pfizer, but in fact from the WHO-backed Covax initiative, will surely ruffle the feathers of poorer members of that group,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Asked by Heather Du Plessis-Allan what was happening to get the early vaccines, Chris Hipkins said he hoped to get them from Covax: ‘we have been using that channel to see if we can seek additional quantities of the Pfizer vaccine earlier, and we’ll know a bit more about that in the next week or so.’
“But Covax exists primarily to provide a negotiating bloc that has the scale to provide 'equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines,' or as Pfizer Australia CEO Anne Harris explained to the ABC, ‘the Covax facility is there to predominantly procure vaccines for low to middle income countries.’
“New Zealand is not a low to middle income country, we’re one of 37 members of the OECD.
“Already the poorer countries relying mainly on Covax to get vaccinations underway are criticising wealthier countries for, as they see it, cornering the global market for vaccines at their expense.
“And in New Zealand’s case they have a very strong point, given we’ve secured enough vaccine to inoculate the population more than twice over.
“Data compiled by Bloomberg shows New Zealand is ranked third in the world for the number of vaccines secured as a percentage of population, behind Canada and the UK, with 246.8 per cent coverage.
“You can only imagine the outrage from low to middle income countries if New Zealand succeeded in getting even more Pfizer doses earlier than scheduled from Covax while they’re still waiting to receive any vaccines themselves.
“New Zealand’s problem is it has negotiated badly. We have plenty of vaccines coming but we’re now at the back of the queue of developed countries rather than the front for delivery, and this is embarrassing the Government into taking extreme measures.
“On Monday Pfizer confirmed to the ABC that Australia will receive its first doses in February, and the Government is now scrambling to try and save face.
“That it’s had the cheek to try and get the vaccines off Covax shows how desperate it is.”