Heather du Plessis-Allan: A vaccine war is coming - and we're on the wrong side

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 Jan 2021, 4:51PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: A vaccine war is coming - and we're on the wrong side

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 Jan 2021, 4:51PM

What’s going on with the vaccine in Europe right now tells me we need to abandon this idea that New Zealand should wait our turn for the vaccine so other countries with outbreaks can get it first. 

Other countries and blocs are not being this naïve. They are chasing the vaccine and they are paying through the nose to make sure their populations get vaccinated. 

There’s a big row in Europe because Astrazeneca has told the EU it has to cut its promised vaccine delivery by 60 percent.

The suspicion is the batch of vaccine that was meant for the EU is actually being given to the UK, because the UK is paying a higher price for it. 

This is happening around the world.  South Africa is paying nearly double the going rate for the same vaccine so it can get some supplies faster for its frontline health workers. 

Israel has managed to give 30 percent of its entire population a shot because it paid nearly 60 percent more for the vaccines than the going rate. 

This now being dubbed a vaccine war. 

And it’s not just countries with outbreaks jumping the queue.  Singapore is vaccinating yet it hasn’t had a Covid death since November.  The Seychelles has jabbed 21 percent of its population.  They’ve had only 3 deaths this entire time. 

I know there is a moral argument to letting countries have access to vaccinations if they have people dying.  But these countries aren’t: the UK and the US – the two big examples of countries that stuffed this up – are vaccinating their people at pace and have been since mid-December.   

We shouldn’t be so naïve as to believe that if we hold off, our 5 million doses will go to countries in more need.  Pharmaceutical companies could well send them off to Australia instead, and can you really say Australia is in more need than us. 

Pharma companies will likely simply sell our doses to the highest bidder. 

The pity here is that even if we wanted to, we can’t now pay more to get it earlier.  Chris Hipkins yesterday admitted we don’t have the option of upping our price. 

He also as good as admitted we can’t even get early access for our border workers, which would be another line of defence against Covid getting back into New Zealand. 

 I can’t help but feel that, if this is a vaccine war, we’re not on the winning side.