Covid-19: Less than 6,000 doses of AstraZeneca administered in New Zealand
Lena Lam / Stuff
A total of 5,440 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in New Zealand since the vaccine became available in late November.
Only 5% of New Zealand’s stockpile of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has arrived in Kiwis’ arms, with the rest due to expire in just over 10 weeks.
A shipment of 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived from Australia in November. Up to January 16, a total of 5,440 doses have been administered, the health ministry said.
In a statement, the ministry confirmed that the existing stock would expire on April 2, but was unable to say what would happen if it was found to be surplus to requirements.
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University of Auckland vaccinologist Dr Helen Petousis-Harris said it would make sense for New Zealand to channel excess supplies into the Covax programme, a global mechanism for equitable distribution of vaccines.
“It would be terrible if we had doses of Covid vaccines that we didn’t need and couldn’t use,” she said.
No wastage of AstraZeneca’s vaccine stock was reported, the ministry said. Reported wastage for all Covid-19 vaccine stock is 0.43%.
Nigeria last month destroyed more than a million expired doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine after receiving donated vaccines that had little shelf life left.
In December 2020, the government entered into an advance purchase agreement with AstraZeneca for 7.6 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine – enough for 3.8 million people.
It was then made available in late November, for people aged 18 and over who couldn’t have the Pfizer vaccine or wanted another option.
To date, 684,400 doses from this agreement have been sent to Indonesia and 24,000 to Samoa, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).
An additional 1.7 million doses have been donated to Pacific countries through the Covax program but outside of the Advance Purchase Agreement meaning they do not count towards New Zealand’s share of 7 .6 million doses.
A total of 211,200 doses of AstraZeneca have been sent to island nations so far, with the bulk going to Papua New Guinea.
MFAT spokeswoman Susan Pepperell confirmed no new stock was pending shipment, but the remainder should be available in the first quarter of 2022. The Department of Health has not been able to confirm if any of the existing AstraZeneca stocks in New Zealand would be part of this.
Chief Health Officer Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will be made available to certain people over the age of 18. (Video first posted November 10, 2021).
Low consumption without surprise – vaccinologist
The number of doses of AstraZeneca administered was higher than expected by Petousis-Harris.
“I wouldn’t expect the turnout to be high because we vaccinated pretty much everyone with Pfizer, and since we made the Advance Purchase Agreement a lot has changed. “
“There are very, very few people who are contraindicated or who may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine…so the number of doses given is greater than the number of people who would have had them. health reasons,” Petousis-Harris said.
In terms of preventing serious infections, mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna had shown themselves to be “best performers”, she said, and continued to perform better against Omicron when booster doses were taken into account. .
“All vaccines have been very effective in keeping people out of hospital and intensive care, but when it comes to preventing infection in the first place, none are perfect, but Pfizer is more efficient.”
She added that there could be logistical challenges with clinics supplying AstraZeneca, as vaccinators had to undergo additional training for each new vaccine.
When asked if uptake was lower than the Department of Health expected, he provided a statement saying: “Pfizer remains the preferred Covid-19 vaccine for use in New Zealand, reflecting its excellent profile safety and efficacy.”
There is a very rare but serious effect of blood clots (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS) linked to AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines.