New Zealand secures 250k vaccine doses from Spain

New Zealand secures 250k vaccine doses from Spain
Around a quarter of a million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine bought from Spain will arrive in New Zealand this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday, boosting the country's inoculation programme.

The doses left Madrid at 1am today and will arrive in Auckland on Friday morning, Ardern said, adding to some 1.8 million doses being delivered directly from Pfizer throughout September.

“This means we don’t have any plans to slow down the rollout,” Ardern said at a news conference.

Officials have sped up the national vaccination programme as they battle an outbreak of the Delta variant that prompted Ardern to order a snap nationwide lockdown last month.

With the bulk of vaccine supplies not due to arrive until next month, the Government faced the possibility of having to slow down the rollout to avoid running out of vaccines.

“There are now enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone who wants to be at pace. Now it’s up to us,” Ardern said.

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker administers a COVID-19 test at a testing clinic during a lockdown to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Auckland, New Zealand, August 26, 2021. REUTERS/Fiona Goodall

About 1.7 million people in the largest city of Auckland remain in a strict level 4 lockdown but curbs have been eased in the rest of the country.

Around 31% of New Zealand’s 5.1 million people have been fully vaccinated, one of the slowest paces among the wealthy nations of the OECD grouping.

Officials on Thursday reported 13 new cases of COVID-19, all in Auckland, taking the total number of cases in the latest Delta variant outbreak to 868.

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