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New Zealand has thrown its hat into the vaccine R&D ring.
On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods, and Health Minister David Clark announced the country would put $37 million (US$22.6 million) towards the global quest for a vaccine for Covid-19.
Of this, $10 million (US$6.1 million) will go to domestic research and $5 million (US$1.2 million) has been set aside to spend on manufacturing the vaccine, if such a possibility arises.
Another $15 million (US$9 million) is earmarked for international research efforts, including but not limited to projects funded by the Gates Foundation-backed Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation. The remaining $7 million (US$4.2 million) in the package will be put towards GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and a public-private partnership founded by the Gates Foundation which distributes vaccines to developing countries.
“The Covid-19 vaccine strategy outlines how New Zealand will contribute to global efforts by ramping up our own capability, working with the international community and supporting our Pacific neighbours in the deployment of a vaccine once it becomes available,” Peters said.
Woods touted New Zealand's "quality researchers and a high performing research, science and innovation sector with a long history of working with colleagues across the globe to tackle complex global problems".
“It's vital that we contribute to international research efforts as well as ramp up our own research and manufacturing capability,” she said.
“The development of a safe and effective vaccine is a crucial tool in the control of Covid-19 worldwide and a global effort is well under way to develop and test various vaccine candidates,” Clark said.
Officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Health, Medsafe, Pharmac and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be involved in the vaccine task force, alongside independent science and technical advisors.
There are dozens of potential vaccines for the virus currently in production and at least nine are already in human trials.
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