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The New Zealand government has allocated significant extra funding, “in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars,” to access a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

The specifics of the funding from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund cannot be disclosed due to commercial sensitivity as it could prevent the best possible deal for New Zealanders, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference on Thursday.

It is in addition to the 37 million NZ dollars (24.5 million U.S. dollars) vaccine strategy released in May to support domestic and international work, Ardern said.

Since the beginning of this global pandemic, the government has gone “hard and early” in a plan to “eliminate the virus and work in as many ways as possible to secure a vaccine as soon as it’s available.”

“I’ve been talking to a range of world leaders about global vaccine development, including (German Chancellor ) Angela Merkel, (Canadian Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau and (Australian Prime Minister) Scott Morrison. We are working particularly closely with Australia to ensure we are connected to all parts of vaccine development, distribution and use, as well as our Pacific neighbors to elevate their voices,” the prime minister said.

Research, Science and innovation Minister Megan Woods said the funding would enable the government to secure access to promising vaccine candidates, alongside joining initiatives such as the global COVAX Facility.

“Governments around the world are using purchasing arrangements to secure supply, and this will be a key mechanism for helping New Zealand gain access to COVID-19 vaccines,” Woods said.

“Global cooperation is crucial because as long as one country or community is at risk, we are all at risk.”

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