UNICEF signs supply agreement for Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

Cheryl Sanders
February 13, 2021

On Wednesday, the German vaccine maker BioNTech on Wednesday announced that it had started production at its new facility in the town of Marburg, a development that it is hoped might significantly boost the European Union's vaccine supply.

Japan also has an order for 120 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and an agreement for 50 million doses of another one made by US-based Moderna.

A faster rollout could save lives, Kusumi noted, but Japan has insisted on testing vaccines at home before approving them. The authorisation by Cabinet ministers came after the vaccine was given provisional approval by Medsafe last week. The expected annual production capacity, it said, would be 750 million doses.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that border workers will begin receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from February 20.

There will be a couple of days between when the vaccines arrive to when they go in bodies so that checks can be done - for example, to make sure the jabs were kept at the right temperature on their journey to New Zealand.

Those working on the front line - including border workers, cleaners, security and nurses who work in managed isolation facilities - will be first to get vaccinated.

"Our first priority is out border workers, our first line of defence who interact with returnees who may potentially have the virus every day".

After a study to verify the vaccine's safety, Japan aims to start inoculating all people aged 65 and older starting from the end of April, according to Kyodo News.

Those people are expected to be vaccinated through the second quarter of this year.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is one of two jabs now being issued in the UK.

Speaking after a business event this morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government expects to vaccinate this 12,000-strong workforce within two to three weeks.

"The vaccine is important for protecting our health, our economy, our current freedoms", she said.

Last month, Sweden froze payments to Pfizer to figure out whether it was being overcharged for the vaccines. The timeline was this year updated to the first quarter.

The Marburg site is a "key factor" in the partners' push to 2 billion doses, BioNTech said, and will be one of the largest mRNA manufacturing sites in Europe.

New Zealand Medical Association chairwoman Dr Kate Baddock says the vaccine is the next step in dealing with the pandemic.

Japan plans to begin its Covid vaccination programme on 17 February, pending local approval for the Pfizer vaccine, and there are fears that health workers administering the vaccine may be left with no option other than to discard the sixth and final dose.

Other reports by iNewsToday