WELLINGTON (New Zealand) – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she still expected supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech product to arrive in the country by end-March, but expressed concern at any attempt to limit exports.
“The world just can’t afford for that to happen. We won’t be safe until we have widespread rollout across the globe,” she told a news conference.
“So it’s in everybody’s interest that we see vaccine programmes continuing to roll out in other countries.”
She warned against “vaccine nationalism” that could delay the rollout of international shipments.
“I have said 2021 is the year of the vaccine. It’s a full-year programme we have only just begun. We’re not in a race to be first, but to ensure safe and timely access to vaccines for all New Zealanders,” she said.
The provisional approval of the vaccine developed by US drugmaker Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech meant the country could begin preparations for the first stage of its vaccination rollout, she said.
People at highest risk would be vaccinated first, before the broader community from the second half of the year.
Ardern urged New Zealanders to get inoculated as soon as vaccines were available.
“I will absolutely be vaccinated, my family members will be vaccinated. But right now I am not the order of priority,” she said.