The case for New Zealand to have its own COVID-19 vaccine programme

24 April 2020, COVID-19

More than 120 national and international scientists have signed their name to a paper published in the New Zealand Medical Journal calling for a national COVID-19 vaccine programme.

The article, written by the University of Otago's Associate Professor James Ussher and Professor Miguel Quiñones-Mateu, the Malaghan Institute's Professor Graham Le Gros, and Avalia Immunotherapies' Dr Shivali A Gulab and Melissa Yiannoutsos, lays out the case for New Zealand to have its own COVID-19 vaccine programme to ensure its protection, health and economic viability.

It recommends:

1. Initiating a programme to evaluate the best vaccines being developed internationally with scalable potential in New Zealand, to be accessible to the entire population.

2. In parallel, progressing COVID-19 vaccine development programmes nationally and through global partnerships (in particular with Australia), involving leading research institutions, government and industry.

3. Building capability for vaccine production sufficient to rapidly vaccinate everyone in New Zealand when a vaccine becomes approved either nationally or internationally for public use.

4. Developing a plan for how a vaccine will be rolled out and who should receive it first.

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