New Zealand to provide vaccines for 1.2 million people in Pacific Islands

Sydney, Australia, May 14 (EFE).- New Zealand is to provide enough Covid-19 vaccines to cover 1.2 million people in Pacific Island countries over the coming year, the government said Friday.

Wellington will provide vaccines for rollout in the Cook Islands from next week, followed by Niue and Tokelau.

“This continues our ongoing commitment to support our Pacific neighbors through the increased challenges the Covid-19 pandemic is placing upon our region,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement Friday.

Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, which have started their vaccine rollouts with doses from the global Covax Facility, will also be able to receive enough additional doses from New Zealand to fully cover their population, the statement said.

In addition, Fiji has taken up the offer of AstraZeneca doses for 250,000 people donated by Wellington.

“New Zealand is following up its commitment to equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines by donating enough for 800,000 people through the Covax Advance Market Commitment. These doses will go to developing countries, with a focus on the Pacific,” Associate Health and Foreign Minister Aupito William Sio said.

“In total, this means New Zealand will be providing protection against Covid-19 to at least 1.2 million people in the Pacific over the coming year.”

Mahuta also announced an economic aid fund for Pacific countries valued at NZ$120 million ($86 million) to “help them respond to the economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic and move towards long-term economic resilience.”

“By working closely with our Pacific neighbors, and other partners, we can provide a further line of defense for our entire region.”

New Zealand, whose vaccination campaign is progressing at a slower rate than expected, has accumulated 2,289 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic, including 26 deaths.

The country is studying ways to break its isolation from other nations and expand travel bubbles, such as the one it has had since April with Australia. EFE


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