New Zealand transfers vaccine doses to COVAX – 6 Pacific nations first to benefit

June 1st, 2021

Published: June 1st, 2021

  • Responding to an urgent need for doses around the world, the Government of New Zealand has pledged to transfer 1.6 million doses allocated through COVAX to lower-income economies.

  • These doses, entirely funded by New Zealand, will go to a number of low- and middle-income countries, with the first 211,200 allocated to six economies in the Pacific region: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Tuvalu.

  • This dose-transfer announcement is an immediate response to the challenge of global supply constraints – specifically, providing second doses to a number of countries that have rolled out COVAX doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Geneva, 1 June 2021 – Following a 15 April pledge by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to share doses with COVAX, the Government of New Zealand has today announced the signing of an agreement to transfer its allocation of AstraZeneca doses to lower-income economies eligible for support under the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (Gavi COVAX AMC).

As part of a transfer of 1.6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine over 2021, an initial allocation of 211,200 has been made by the COVAX Joint Allocation Taskforce to six countries – Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Tuvalu. The amounts allocated are below:

Country Amount
Papua New Guinea 146,400
Solomon Islands 28,800
Timor-Leste 24,000
Tonga 4,800
Tuvalu 4,800
Fiji 2,400
Total 211,200

These doses are entirely funded by New Zealand, including incidentals, with deliveries beginning in the coming months. Additional allocations will be announced as and when COVAX publishes new allocation rounds.

A number of other countries have announced pledges to share doses with lower-income economies through COVAX or in coordination with COVAX: Team Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden), the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. Dose-sharing is one of the fastest ways to get vaccines to countries and can help respond to a dire global need. Gavi and COVAX partners are additionally calling for an end to export bans, support for technology transfers and for public and private donors to fully finance the Gavi COVAX AMC with an additional US$2 billion by June 2nd for a total ask of US$8.3 billion to secure 1.8 billion doses.

“New Zealand’s sharing of its COVAX allocation allows us to deliver more doses in an extremely tight global supply context,” Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, commented. “The Pacific nations that will be receiving these doses will be able to fully vaccinate populations that have received a first dose, and also increase the total number of people protected.”

Associate Foreign Affairs Minister Aupito William Sio said New Zealand was pleased its donation will save lives. “Dose sharing helps us make the best use of vaccines. We need to do all we can to increase the global supply of vaccines. This means mobilising funding, donating doses, keeping supply chains open, and removing barriers to manufacturing. We encourage all those in a position to do so to consider sharing their vaccines.”’

“The Government of Papua New Guinea thanks the Government and people of New Zealand for providing additional AstraZeneca doses through the COVAX Facility as part of their dose sharing mechanism,” Papua New Guinea Secretary for Health, Dr. Osborne Liko, added. “These gifted doses will be used to provide the second dose of vaccine to our essential frontline workers to provide the protection needed so they can continue to provide essential services to the people of PNG.”

These doses are produced by the AstraZeneca manufacturing network, and follow COVAX’s Principles for Dose-Sharing, which provides a framework for economies to share vaccine doses with others that have been secured either via their self-financed COVAX allocations or through bilateral deals. This will help to increase vaccine coverage, ensure that no dose goes to waste, and help to bring an end to the acute phase of the pandemic. The design and operationalization of the COVAX dose sharing mechanism is being supported by a contribution of CAD 5 million from Canada.