Covid 19 coronavirus: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says vaccine likely in March

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the timetable for a vaccination against Covid-19 in New Zealand was looking like a March date – but not everyone would get a jab at the same time.

She said details of the timing would take place later in the month.

“At this point, our expectation that we’ve been running to is more around the March date,” said Ardern.

But she warned not everyone would receive the vaccination at the same time and the delivery timetable was far from set in stone.

Ardern was on Newstalk ZB with Mike Hosking this morning talking about significant steps in climate change as well as opening up the borders to additional workers in the coming summer months during the Covid pandemic.

LISTEN LIVE: Jacinda Ardern joins Mike Hosking at 7.05am

Ardern said she had spoken with the German and French leaders about the different dates they expect vaccines to arrive in their countries.

“There’s been speculation around December for some countries receiving vaccines – some claim it will be later in January – so at the moment while they’re still in clinical trials there’s still some ambiguity.”

Ardern said she would making an announcement on vaccine arrangements before the end of the year, detailing the timetable and what everyone could expect because it wouldn’t happen in “one fell swoop”.

So far two vaccines have been announced for New Zealand – Pfizer and Janssen.

Pzifer’s product could be in the country as early as March and is a two-dose vaccine that would cover 750,000 people.

Janssen’s requires just one injection but would not get here until closer to September 2021, with two million initial doses and more to follow if needed.

Meanwhile, Ardern said this morning that an announcement of a potential travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Islands was still being worked through. She would not be drawn on a timeline.

She said New Zealand’s climate emergency would be declared this week.

“This is the first opportunity we have with parliament back.”

Ardern is personally introducing the motion in Parliament tomorrow. She said it had been called for for some time but a declaration in Parliament doesn’t have the same effect as power being granted in a civil defence emergency.

“However, we’re very much of the view that we do need to make sure that we are sending very clear messages into the public service and equally outwardly around what our expectations are of the work that needs to be done.

“This is an issue where if we don’t have both mitigation and adaptation working at pace, people, for instance, lose their houses, and assets that are of value to us as taxpayers are compromised.

“There are very real effects from us not taking action on this issue that are akin to what becomes a civil defence emergency.”

Last week Ardern said Labour had always considered climate change to be “a huge threat to our region”.

It was something that had to be tackled immediately, she said.

This morning she denied the move was “woke symbolism” and said it was important to take this step.

She said if the Government didn’t do something, people would lose their houses and assets would be destroyed, with the climate change toll on our environment becoming akin to a civil state of emergency.

Meanwhile, it was revealed on Friday the Government would let in 2000 workers from the Pacific early next year to pick fruit for the horticulture and wine industries.

Their arrival is hoped to cover a huge hole in the labour force and avert what many growers have been calling a crisis.

But there are government conditions to the deal.

Employers will have to pay the workers a living wage of $22.10 an hour, pay them 30 hours a week while they’re in managed isolation for 14 days, and cover their isolation costs – estimated at $4472 a worker.

It also emerged last week that evidence given by ministers and public sector bosses to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attack will be suppressed for 30 years.

And an interview with the Australian-born terrorist will never be released out of concern it could inspire and assist further attacks.

The inquiry’s report was provided to Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti yesterday and will be publicly released on December 8, after first being shared with victims’ families and political party leaders.

It will detail any failings by police, spies and other government agencies in the lead-up and aftermath to the mosque shootings on March 15, 2019, in which 51 people were killed.

In a final minute issued on Friday, commissioners Sir William Young and Jacqui Caine said evidence and submissions by public sector chief executives and current and former ministers would be subject to non-publication orders for 30 years.

The PM this morning would not be drawn on the subject, saying she would wait for the report’s findings to be published before making any comment.

Ardern was currently reading the 800-page report and her hope was to finish it before its public release.

She would not comment on the 30-year suppression order on evidence, saying it was a decision for the commission to make.

“People will be under no illusion about what they think of that evidence even though they won’t be able to identify individual public servants, for example,” she said.

“Obviously in terms of the accountability we now have, the person who holds primary responsibility for this event in prison for the rest of their life.

“This is now, and coming back to what we asked the Royal Commission to do, was there anything that could or should have been done by public agencies that could have prevented it and on December 8 everyone will be able to see those conclusions,” said Ardern.

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