Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Public deserves clarity and consistency on vaccine timing


“ACT’s January 6 call for a vaccine timetable review, and January 11 charge that the Government’s response to Covid 19 had become complacent, are being sadly vindicated with each day’s developments,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Minister for COVID-19 Response and Director General of Health are contradicting each other about why vaccines are late to New Zealand.

“Ashley Bloomfield says we are waiting for Medsafe approval before we get vaccines, Chris Hipkins says it’s up to the drug companies. Either way, the public deserves clarity.

“When it comes to COVID-19, transparency is not just for transparency’s sake. The public deserve to know the Government is acting nimbly to avoid another lockdown. It’s not good enough to say other countries are able to rush their vaccine delivery because they face an emergency. If we do not vaccinate border workers, in particular, we may be facing one too.

“Fresh from Ministers saying supply constraints and other countries’ experience of COVID-19 was dictating the timetable for vaccines arriving in New Zealand on Monday, this morning Ashley Bloomfield took us right back to square one by contradicting those Ministers and saying the order to ship won’t be made until Medsafe has signed off the vaccines’ safety.

“The inconsistencies of 2020, when Ministers and officials couldn’t get their stories straight on PPE or testing are reappearing in 2021. The main difference is David Clark isn’t involved any more.

“Ashley Bloomfield was very clear this morning on NewstalkZB, when Medsafe is assured a vaccine is safe then the order for delivery will go to the drug maker.

“But Ministers have spent the past week suggesting things were the other way around.

“Asked on Saturday when frontline border and MIQ workers could be inoculated Chris Hipkins said ‘It really depends on when the vaccines arrive.’

“He went on to say of Australia’s now different timeline to New Zealand’s for starting vaccination, ‘They can't start till they have vaccines, same as us. If our vaccines somehow arrive in February, we will start in February.’

“But now Ashley Bloomfield has completely contradicted him.

“He was asked by Mike Hosking this morning ‘who decides when we get a vaccine?’

“His response was clear: ‘First of all we have to get it approved by Medsafe … Pfizer is almost certainly the first vaccine we will have access to, so as soon as we have got that approval we can get the order across from Pfizer.’

“So while 44 million doses of vaccine have already been administered in 51 countries, New Zealand is waiting for Medsafe to say it’s okay to ask the drug companies to put us in the queue to ship.”

ENDS