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Vaccine efficacy differs between population groups, which may influence rollout — Hipkins

The Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says not all vaccines are as effective with different population groups, which may mean the rollout of the vaccine will depend on when they arrive in New Zealand.

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The Covid-19 Response Minister said everyone in New Zealand will "not necessarily" need to be vaccinated before allowing in people from overseas, however. Source: Q+A

“So, for example, AstraZeneca vaccine, we have seen evidence to suggest that that is not as suitable for the over-65s as the Pfizer vaccine is,” he told Q+A this morning.

“So knowing which vaccines are arriving, when and where, does have an impact on the sequencing of the rollout. And we've been working very hard to lock down those details, and we will have more to say about that early next week."

Asked by host, Jack Tame, if older the populations will not be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, Hipkins was unclear, saying he didn’t ”want to pre-empt that”.

“Well, it is one of the things we have been weighing up is which vaccines are most effective. Now, one of the challenges there, Jack, is that, you know, the science is still evolving.

"So the clinical trials for some of the vaccines has not been finished yet, and so you want to get that information as reliable as as possible before you make those decisions.”

Hipkins said New Zealand’s vaccine rollout strategy would be unique.

“We have taken a different approach to other countries, including Australia, that we have not made specific commitments around vaccines until we know that we were able [and] that we have known we have been able to deliver on them,” he said.

“So if you look at the targets Australia set for vaccinations, for example, they haven't been able to meet them, because they haven't been able to secure the vaccine supply.

"So a big part of our focus has been on making sure that we can match supply and demand, not to give people an indication that they are going to be vaccinated by a certain date if we are not able to deliver on that.

“But one of the things that we have been working through, as I said, is making sure that the sequencing framework lines up with, you know, what we know about mixing efficacy, what we know about, you know, which vaccines are best and so on, and so we will have more about that early next week,” Hipkins said.