Jacinda Ardern has resumed her popular Facebook live stream videos, starting the year by thanking those who worked through the Christmas season and expressing her satisfaction that “lots of people got the holiday that the team of five million deserve”.
The Prime Minister was back in her local Auckland office this week and set aside some time yesterday to answer some of the burning questions facing the nation.
Ardern said she had spoken to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday, saying the two countries are working “quite closely together” on the regulatory work around vaccine approval.
She said the countries that are “very sadly losing lives” are the countries that have started vaccine rollouts.
“It’s only right, of course, that they have been prioritised for the delivery of vaccines," Ardern said.
“Countries have their own regulators to look over all of the data that’s provided around vaccines and many of those regulators have issued emergency approvals.
“And that’s because of the dire situation those countries are in,” Ardern said.
She said New Zealand has been doing a rolling process.
“So we are getting information through from the pharmaceutical companies from where we’ll be buying the vaccines.”
Information over the clinical work being done is then examined and, following this, New Zealand’s own regulator assesses this information with its own technical experts, Ardern said.
Answering a question from some viewers over whether a vaccination will change quarantine, Ardern said the nation needed one of two things.
“We either need to have enough of our population vaccinated that we know that if they come into contact with Covid, that they are going to be safe and not become incredibly unwell.
“Or we need to know that if people are vaccinated, that they don’t pass Covid on.”
Ardern said there wasn’t research available yet regarding the second point and it was something “we are looking at now”.
She said evidence would need to be gathered around whether vaccinations will make a difference “to the rules around our border”.
“But until then the borders remain closed. They are only open to those who are our citizens and our permanent residents returning home or have an exemption to come in for a limited number of reasons.”
Ardern said she knows it’s devastating, “but I absolutely believe it’s the right thing to do”.
For the full Facebook live stream, watch the video above.