28 Jan 2021

Pfizer calls on governments to avoid export restrictions disrupting Covid-19 vaccine supply

4:17 pm on 28 January 2021

Pfizer says it remains committed to getting 1.5 million doses of its vaccine into New Zealand this year.

Empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 disease vaccine are displayed at the regional corona vaccination centre in Ludwigsburg, southern Germany, on January 22, 2021.

Empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: AFP

The EU has laid out new export rules for pharmaceutical companies producing Covid-19 vaccines for third party countries.

In a statement, drug company said: "Pfizer committed to delivering on its agreement with the New Zealand government to supply 1.5 million doses of its vaccine for Covid-19 over the course of 2021.

"We look forward to receiving further details on the EU proposal and assessing its impact on patients.

"We understand the EU proposed notification process is aimed at increasing transparency and does not intend to restrict global supply to patients.

"It is critical that governments do not impose export restrictions or other trade barriers that risk creating uncertainty and disrupting supply of vaccine to patients around the world.

"Pfizer will continue to work closely with the government to support their vaccine implementation plans."

College of GPs medical director and former Pharmac deputy medical director Bryan Betty said the EU export restrictions were concerning and it was time for New Zealand to also start the conversation around manufacturing capability here.

He said it was important to get the vaccine in time.

"There's three major issues here: there is a huge global demand and this nationalistic type approach that Europe may be taking could disrupt supply.

"The second thing we do see manufacturing problems with medications all the time.

"And the third issue is we're at the end of a long global supply chain and as we saw last year with the flu vaccination, there was recurrent disruption to the supply of vaccine into the country."

He said the government's contracts with the vaccine companies should be watertight, and there might even be financial penalties, but the global competition for the vaccine was something to watch for.

It would be ideal to have all of the country vaccinated by the end of the year, but there could be setbacks.

"We need to be realistic about that possibility. It may be out of New Zealand's control."

Advice from the Ministry of Health:

  • The recent cases of Covid-19 in Auckland and Northland have been linked to Managed Isolation and Quarantine. There is no evidence so far that suggests community transmission.
  • The locations visited by the recent cases can be found on the Ministry of Health website
  • To help stamp out Covid-19, it's important the right people isolate and get tested
  • If you were at the locations of interest at the times stated, you need to: isolate away from others, call Healthline 0800 358 5453 for advice on when and where to get tested, and remain isolated until you have a negative test result
  • If you were not at a location of interest at the stated times and you have no symptoms you do not need to be tested
  • If you were not at any of the locations of interest at the stated times, but you have symptoms, call Healthline for advice on 0800 358 5453
  • If you are going to get tested, remember you may have to queue. Please take food and water and continue to be kind to each other and our public health team
  • Everyone should continue to scan QR codes using the Covid Tracer app and turn Bluetooth on to help stop the spread of Covid-19
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  • European Union demands UK-made AstraZeneca vaccine doses
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