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The Malaghan Institute is part of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo, a multi-institutional team focused on building New Zealand’s capability and platforms for vaccine development to meet the current and future demands of infectious disease threats.



Established in 2020 as part of the Government’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand – Ohu Kaupare Huaketo (VAANZ) comprises the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, the University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, ESR, South Pacific Sera, Avalia Immunotherapies and AgResearch, as well as a number of local and international collaborators.

With ongoing investment from the Government into 2022, VAANZ is now a public-private partnership, with additional private funding helping support vaccine development and establishment of an mRNA platform for New Zealand. VAANZ has pivoted to address two key concerns in the evolving pandemic – a booster vaccine for variants of concern, (Delta, Omicron) and vaccines to protect broadly across current and future SARS-CoV-2 variants and related coronaviruses.

VAANZ is also undertaking a clinical study – ‘Ka Mātau, Ka Ora' (from knowledge comes wellbeing) – into the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, to better understand how New Zealanders’ immune systems respond to the vaccine, particularly in populations likely at higher risk from COVID-19, such as Māori, Pasifika and the elderly.  In April 2022 it published interim results showing a strong immune response to the vaccine across New Zealanders.

VAANZ vaccine candidates

VAANZ is working on two lead candidates – a spike protein booster vaccine developed locally and a pan COVID-19 vaccine as part of a Trans-Tasman collaboration. It is aiming to take at least one of these through to a phase 1 trial.

With funding to help establish an mRNA vaccine development platform in New Zealand, VAANZ is laying the groundwork for mRNA vaccines in New Zealand by development of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for local manufacture and testing in a phase 1 clinical trial.

NZ resources for vaccine research

VAANZ has links to major clinical trials units, clinical labs and manufacturing units nationally and is working internationally to strengthen New Zealand's contribution to COVID-19 vaccine programmes.

Read more about COVID-19 vaccine clinical resources available in New Zealand through the VAANZ platform.


From left: Malaghan Institute Director Prof Graham Le Gros, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand and University of Otago Assoc Prof James Ussher. © Victoria University of Wellington 

VAANZ structure


  • Malaghan Institute of Medical Research
  • University of Otago
  • Victoria University of Wellington 
  • Ag Research
  • Avalia Immunotherapies
  • ESR
  • South Pacific Sera  


  • Pacific Clinical Research Network
  • Southern Community Laboratories
  • Callaghan Innovation
  • University of Auckland
  • University of Otago, Christchurch (Vissers lab)
  • University of Melbourne
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease/NIH
  • Human Vaccines Project

Management team