New Zealand is preparing to support its Pacific partners to access safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines at the earliest opportunity, NZ Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta and Associate Foreign Affairs Minister Aupito William Sio said today in a joint statement.
“Pacific countries have worked hard to keep COVID-19 out, or to stamp it out, and New Zealand has been committed to supporting them in this,” Mahuta said. “But their success has been hard-won. A safe and effective vaccine will be key to the region’s economic and social recovery.”
Mahuta confirmed NZ$75 million of Official Development Assistance had been earmarked to support Pacific and global vaccine access and roll-out.
“New Zealand is pursuing a portfolio of potential COVID-19 vaccines to ensure we have flexibility and choice in the fast-moving global marketplace. We want to make sure Pacific countries can also access suitable options, and have the support they need to run successful immunisation campaigns.”
Aupito William Sio said New Zealand’s approach will be to purchase sufficient vaccines to cover not only New Zealand, Tokelau, Niue, and Cook Islands, but also its Polynesian neighbours, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu, should their governments wish to take these up.
“We are best placed to support these countries directly because of our constitutional relationships, and the strong links between our health systems and our close people-to-people ties across Polynesia,” Sio said. “We will also be scaling up existing health investments to enable us to play our part in vaccine roll-out.
Included in the $75m support package, New Zealand plans to make a further $10m contribution to the COVAX Facility Advance Market Commitment, which is the key multilateral mechanism that has emerged to support equitable global access.
New Zealand is also ready to contribute to wider Pacific regional initiatives as they take shape.