Chris Hipkins is pushing back on criticism he was “slow to even order” COVID-19 vaccines amid revelations the first batch wasn’t requested until late January.
The COVID-19 Response Minister has revealed in written parliamentary questions from National MP Chris Bishop that the Government made its first purchase order with Pfizer on January 29, for 65,520 doses.
So it took three months to order any vaccines, and when they finally did, it was for around 1% of the country.
“New Zealand’s advance purchase agreement with Pfizer was signed on 12 October and it was the first vaccine agreement we signed. The Government should’ve then immediately ordered as many doses as possible and moved as quickly as possible to approve the vaccine use in New Zealand,” Bishop says.
Why on earth did they wait three months to place an order?
“We weren’t able to put in an order for that first delivery until we knew that we were getting Medsafe approval. Once we were confident of that, a few days before that, we got the order in so that we could take the delivery fairly soon after the approval was officially given.
Oh nonsense. Of course you could order them ahead of approval. You just couldn’t use them.