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NZ funds 100,000 AstraZeneca doses for Fiji

About 100,000 AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines funded by New Zealand are set to arrive in Fiji today.

Medical staff prepares an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Source: Associated Press

The vaccines will come straight from the Spanish Government, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced this afternoon.

"Our thoughts remain with Fiji during this incredibly challenging period," Mahuta said.

New Zealand had promised to give Fiji 500,000 doses of the vaccine, enough to cover 250,000 people as it struggles with the outbreak, today confirming 13 new deaths adding to the death toll of 254.

New Zealand's medicine regulator gave provisional approval to AstraZeneca for people 18 and over last week, however it still needed Government approval. 

"New Zealand has funded 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine directly from the Spanish Government in order to meet Fiji’s immediate vaccine requirements," Mahuta said. 

"The vaccines will arrive in Fiji later today.

"Our commitment stands and New Zealand will continue to work with Fiji to confirm its remaining vaccine requirements."

New Zealand would also pay for 190 Fiji graduate nurses for three months to provide for surge capacity.

"The recruitment of these nurses not only supports Fiji’s response in the short term, but also contributes to the long-term resilience of the health sector."

AstraZeneca can be kept at normal fridge temperature. New Zealand has a pre-purchase agreement of 7.6 million doses of the two dose vaccine. 

A Covid-19 positive UN worker was medically evacuated from Fiji last week to New Zealand.