Covid-19 coronavirus: Vaccine supplies to get ‘very tight’; 1.149m doses administered

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says New Zealand’s supplies of the Covid vaccine are about to “get very tight”.

Stocks of vaccine available for distribution have fallen below 100,000, a chart supplied by the Ministry of Health shows.

Stock levels at DHBs were being monitored closely and deliveries over the next few days were closely aligned to bookings, Hipkins said.

The Government was expecting 1 million doses to be delivered next month.

As of midnight last night, 1,149,608 doses of vaccine had been administered across New Zealand, and more than 444,000 New Zealanders had received their second dose.

“Overall we continue to track around 8 per cent ahead of plan,” Hipkins said.

Ten per cent of first vaccine doses have gone to Māori and 9 per cent of second doses.That is below the population for Māori proportionately, Hipkins said.

“We do need to see those numbers increasing for Māori, and that will be our focus as we get to groups 3 and 4.”

He expected stocks to drop to their lowest point on Tuesday next week.

However, although supplies would run low, the Government had decided to get supplies out the door and into people’s arms rather than leaving doses in freezers, Hipkins said.

Vaccines now had a longer shelf life and could be stored for longer. “There is more vaccine out there, sitting in freezers across the country,” he said, and that would be distributed throughout NZ until next Tuesday.

“We’re continuing to go through the approvals process, but plan A is still for everyone to be offered the Pfizer vaccine by the end of the year,” Hipkins said.

“We’re working on a Pfizer-based vaccine campaign and that’s our focus.”

The Government’s Book My Vaccine system would be available to the wider public from the end of next month, Hipkins said. It’s only visible to those being invited to book vaccines at this point.

The Janssen vaccine is the next likely vaccine to be approved in New Zealand.

Preliminary advice is that since New Zealand already has the Pfizer vaccine, which is regarded as highly effective, a Pfizer-based programme should continue and any Janssen vaccines could be stored, director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.

There are more than 200 businesses operating at borders around the country. Eighty-three per cent of workers active in the border testing register have received their second dose of the vaccine, and another 3 per cent have received their first dose, Hipkins said.

The remaining 14 per cent have not been vaccinated or are exempt.

“I’m confident these workers have access to good information. They have had and continue to have good access to vaccine,” Bloomfield said.

The Government decided to calibrate vaccine supply in the first half of the year so the country could prepare for larger amounts of stock.

Hipkins said the goal isn’t to have a whole lot “sitting in the freezer” but to get the vaccines out as soon as possible.

“I’m not going to settle for any target less than everybody getting the chance to get the vaccine.”

There is good emerging evidence the Pfizer vaccine provides protection against the Delta variant, Bloomfield said.

No new community cases

Meanwhile, one new case of Covid-19 was reported in managed isolation today.

The current total of cases in New Zealand is 31, the Ministry of Health says.

Today’s new case in MIQ is a traveller from Afghanistan.

There are no new cases in the community today, as Wellington returned to life under alert level 1.

The MIQ case was on day 12 of their stay at an isolation hotel. The latest case was not in the Novotel Auckland Airport managed isolation facility and is not linked to the two positive day 12 tests reported yesterday.

“As is standard protocol, we will investigate the reason for the day 12 positive test,” officials said.

More than 2600 people have been identified as contacts of the Australian person who visited Wellington between 19 and 21 June and later tested positive for Covid-19.

“Of those 2618 total contacts, 2505 or 96 per cent of people have returned a negative result, eight additional people have had a swab and are awaiting a result; 14 people have been granted a clinical exemption and eight have returned overseas, which means their home jurisdiction will be following up with them.”

The remaining contacts are being actively followed up by contact tracing teams.

Bloomfield said yesterday the likelihood of people in Wellington still incubating the virus was “now very low”.

However, testing centres would remain open in Wellington Central, Porirua, the Kāpiti Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa.

There had been more than 8200 tests in Wellington in the past week, with no positive results, and while there were yesterday still about 100 contacts yet to be tested, they would be isolating for a full 14-day period.

There are no new Covid cases in the community again yesterday and four confirmed in managed isolation facilities.

Transtasman bubble

Australians coming to New Zealand are “pretty active” on the Covid tracer system, Hipkins said.

“We are looking at the broader issue of how we can provide more accurate information faster to our contact tracing teams. We will havemore on that in due course.”

Hipkins announced yesterday that from 11.59pm on Sunday, July 4, the pause on the transtasman bubble will lift for South Australia, ACT, Tasmania and Victoria.

Travellers from Australia would require a pre-departure test within 72 hours of their flight, which would need to be negative, Hipkins said.

Travellers must not have been in Queensland, the Northern Territory or Western Australia on or after 10.30pm (NZT) on June 26, when the pause first came into effect.

They must also not have been in New South Wales on or after 11.59pm (NZT) on June 22.

Hipkins said a high level of risk remained for NSW, and there was also risk associated with Queensland, Western Australia and the NT.

Cabinet would review the pause on those states on Monday, with an announcement expected on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday the pre-departure requirements would likely be in place for some time.

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