As the world anxiously awaits the final go-ahead of the COVID 19 vaccine, Niue has been assured that New Zealand will be purchasing enough doses of the vaccine to cover 50% of the population.
In September NZ former minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters confirmed that the New Zealand government had signed into an international effort called the COVAX facility to ensure that NZ and its realm countries (Niue, Cook Islands and Tokelau) will receive enough vaccines to cover up to 50% of the population.
BCN News understands from New Zealand sources that this arrangement is on a reimbursement basis.
Director General of Social Services and member of Niue’s COVID committee Mrs Gaylene Tasmania says that they will be relying on the NZ government and the Ministry of Health there to provide the other 50% of the vaccine.
In early October Midday News spoke to Dr. Helen Petousis-Harris (pictured) a specialist in vaccinology at the Auckland University about the vaccines. She said that there are few vaccines being trialed and “If those trials go well the results are expected at the end of the year, at the earliest”.
“It doesn’t mean that we will have access to them straight away. It may take some time because there’s a whole world’s population waiting for vaccines.”
According to Dr. Petousis-Harris it will probably take a few months before we can expect to see the first of the vaccines in Niue.
Meanwhile on radio last week, Gaylene Tasmania cautioned public expectations of the vaccine saying “We do know of the vaccine. It is not 100 percent effective in the sense that you won’t get COVID. It works by minimising or lessens the severity of COVID. So, it doesn’t mean that you won’t ever get it, it just means it won’t be as severe.”
Mrs. Tasmania says that all the work they have been doing has been for readiness. She says that they never said or promised that COVID will never get here. “We cannot guarantee that COVID would never get to Niue and we never did. From the beginning, we said that if it did, that we have the ability to contain it and eliminate it”.
The government’s COVID Committee says that the vaccine when it does arrive in Niue will be rolled out firstly for the frontline staff those who will be dealing directly with incoming passengers.