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Morning Briefing Jan 27: Countries jostle for Covid vaccines

As New Zealand nears approval for its first Covid vaccine, fears are growing overseas about supply.

A Covid-19 vaccination is prepared. Source: Associated Press

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday confirmed the Pfizer vaccine could be approved by Medsafe as early as next week, meaning the country could take delivery of it as soon as it’s ready to be sent. 

But the news comes as jostling for vaccine supplies begins to take an ugly turn in Europe.

The BBC reports AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech both say they can’t supply the expected number of vaccines due to production problems.

The EU is now arguing it’s not getting its fair share of vaccines and says it could restrict exports of vaccines made within the bloc.

The UK has responded to those threats, with vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi warning against “the dead end of vaccine nationalism”.

"No-one is safe until the whole world is safe,” he says.

New Zealand currently has agreements to buy Covid vaccines from Pfizer, Janssen, Novavax, and AstraZeneca.

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Borders likely closed through 2021

As Jacinda Ardern outlined more details about New Zealand’s Covid vaccination plans, she warned the country’s borders will likely still be impacted for much of the year.

She says “the rest of the world simply poses too great a risk to our health and economy” although the Government is still pursuing travel bubbles with Australia and the Pacific. 

The work on the trans-Tasman bubble continues despite Australia temporarily halting Kiwis’ quarantine-free travel following this week’s community Covid case in Northland.

Investigations into how the woman contracted the virus are ongoing, however the Government says transmission via hotel ventilation while in managed isolation is now the "less likely" scenario.

Although no further community cases of the virus have yet been recorded, Northland iwi leaders are still preparing to reinstate Covid-19 checkpoints.

Schools in the area are also expecting some disruption to the beginning of the school year with anxious families planning to now keep their children at home. 

New Oranga Tamariki advisory board

A new group has been appointed to advise the Government on Oranga Tamariki.

Chaired by Matthew Tukaki, the board will provide independent advice and assurance over the welfare of children in New Zealand.

It comes after embattled chief executive Gráinne Moss resigned from Oranga Tamariki last week. 

Children's Minister Kelvin Davis says there are serious issues about Oranga Tamariki that need to be addressed.

But he says the Government is committed to fixing the system and ensuring Oranga Tamariki becomes an organisation “that people trust and go to for help”. 

Collins calls for crisis collaboration

Judith Collins says National and Labour need to work together to solve the country’s housing crisis.

She used her State of the Nation speech in Auckland yesterday to urge the Government to introduce temporary laws for speeding up the building process.

She says the building of houses needs to be made “drastically easier” and that National would support moves to do so. 

Collins also spoke of her other priorities for 2021, which included speeding up the Covid vaccine roll-out and economic recovery through the pandemic. 

NZ signs FTA upgrade

New Zealand's trading relationship with China has taken another significant step with an upgrade of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.

The deal has taken four years to complete and is worth more than $32 billion.

Key outcomes include new rules to make exporting to China easier and reduce compliance costs for New Zealand exports.

Businesses and exporters say the agreement is a relief during a time of global economic uncertainty.  

Six60 scratchie causes concern

Kiwi band Six60 is defending their involvement in a new Instant Kiwi scratchie, saying profits from the sale of the $3 tickets is going towards several charities.

The Problem Gambling Foundation says the scratchies are "really disappointing" and “normalise gambling and target young people who form a big part of Six60's fan base".

Band members told 1 NEWS they knew their involvement with the scratchies might cause a stir but felt supporting Kiwi causes was worth it. 

Other news of note this morning:

- House Democrats have delivered the impeachment case against former US President Donald Trump to the Senate.

- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging a global alliance to tackle the growth of neo-Nazism and white supremacy around the world.

- New Plymouth residents have been jolted awake by a 3.6 magnitude earthquake early this morning.

- The Hawke's Bay Cricket Association has engaged an independent commissioner to investigate allegations of racist, sexist and homophobic abuse during a schoolboy cricket match in Hastings.

- The mid and south Canterbury towns of Ashburton and Timaru are feeling the heat after sweltering in record January temperatures yesterday.

- Footage from a police Eagle helicopter has captured the moment a 10-year-old boy was saved by officers after being found 100 metres offshore in Auckland.

- And the daughter of the mastermind behind Vogel's Bread has spoken about her dad's journey ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

And finally...

Brooklyn Beckham's new tattoo. Source: Bang Showbiz

Celebrities love a good tattoo tribute and Brooklyn Beckham has once again joined their ranks.

David and Victoria Beckham’s eldest child caused a stir online as he shared his latest tattoo tribute to fiancée Nicola Peltz – a love letter she wrote to him that’s now inked down the back of his neck.

The letter is his fifth tattoo in honour of Peltz. (And yes, those are also her eyes in the back of his head. Make of that what you will.)