On June 16 (local time), Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, New Zealand, announced that it would take up to the end of the year to vaccinate all eligible citizens against Covid-19 infection. Notably, New Zealand, which has a population of fewer than 50 lakhs, had shut down its borders and used tough lockdown measures to virtually eliminate Covid-19 from its grounds. However, the government is now facing harsh criticism over the slow rate of vaccine rollout.
So far, only 560,000 people have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, while 325,000 have received both doses. PM Andern said, “Based on the delivery and supply of vacancies, we are working towards taking to the end of the year for vaccinating all those who are eligible.” Interestingly, she added that the drive has been going “faster than expected”.
As per the plan laid down by the PM, those who are above the age of 60 will get the vaccine from July 28. From August 11, the vaccine will be rolled out for those who are above the age of 55. By late August, those above 45 will become eligible to get the vaccine, and those above 35 will be able to get the vaccine from October this year. The PM further added the country would receive a bulk supply of vaccine in October.
According to her, once the large population is vaccinated, it will be easier to manage the borders. However, some cautions would still be needed as more variants are being discovered across the world. The New Zealand government is consulting the experts on how and when it would be safe to open the borders and what kind of model the country should follow. She said, “Everyone is writing the rule book as we go. The difference we have is we have a different rule book to write. Once you get rid of an elimination strategy, it’s tough to come back to it. So for New Zealand, it’s about how do we preserve our position whilst having a little more freedom at the border.”
Foreign manufacturers are the most significant reason for the delay
As per the reports, New Zealand depends on foreign manufacturers for the supply of the vaccine, which is the biggest reason for the delay in the vaccination drive. The country is currently in the 120th position in managing vaccination drives, with the US tops the list, followed by India and Brazil. India has administered 26,55,19,251 doses so far. 21,58,48,080 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 4,96,71,171 have received both doses. On June 16, India administered 34,63,961 doses in a single day.