COVID-19 Vaccine

US agencies call for pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said six cases in 6.8 million doses had been reported and it was acting "out of an abundance of caution".

Following the news, South Africa, the first country to use the jab, said it would suspend its rollout.

Johnson & Johnson said it would also delay its vaccine drive in Europe.

The US move follows similar rare cases in the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has prompted some curbs in its use.

New Zealand's first Covid-19 vaccine given provisional approval

It comes after a robust assessment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s safety, effectiveness and quality by medicines regulator Medsafe.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the first phase of rolling out the vaccine can now begin.

“Following Medsafe’s approval, Ministry of Health officials will give advice to the Government this week about the ‘decision to use’ the vaccine. This will essentially set out who are most suited to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, such as age ranges.”

Samoa expect Pfizer vaccine by end of March

The Director-General of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri, said in times of a pandemic everyone needed to support and take part in a mass vaccination.

Leausa said front-line workers such as health personnel would be priorities to receive the vaccine.

The UN resident co-ordinator in Samoa, Dr Simona Marinescu, said the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or COVAX, approved up to 50,000 vaccine doses for Samoa, enough for 20 percent of the population and officials. She said the vaccine should be in Samoa before the end of March.

New Zealand Catholic bishops urge everyone to have a Covid-19 vaccine

NZ Catholic Bishops Conference President, Cardinal John Dew, cited this country’s 2019-20 measles epidemic and the endorsement of Covid-19 vaccines by Pope Francis as reasons the bishops are calling on everyone to get vaccinated.

Pope Francis this week lamented that some people were saying they would refuse vaccination, adding: “I believe that morally, everyone must take the vaccine. It is the moral choice because it is about your life [and] the lives of others.”

First Americans 'could get vaccine in early December'

Dr Moncef Slaoui told US network CNN the plan was to "ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours" of a vaccine being approved.

The comments come amid a surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

The US has recorded more than 12m cases and 255,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

These are the highest tolls registered anywhere in the world.

American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its partner BioNTech submitted an application on Friday for emergency authorisation in the US of their Covid-19 vaccine.

US Pacific excited about Biden Covid approach and possible vaccine

Guam and the Northern Marianas have both expressed hope in the incoming administration's Covid-19 policy.

RNZ Pacific correspondent in Saipan, Mark Rabago, said a Joe Biden administration seemed to be more attuned to using science to combat the virus.

"I do hope the Biden administration will deliver on its promise to tackle Covid-19 head on. They seem to be relying more on factual data, scientific data and really relying on experts."

First 'milestone' Covid-19 vaccine offers 90% protection

The developers - Pfizer and BioNTech - described it as a "great day for science and humanity".

Their vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.

No vaccine has gone from the drawing board to being proven highly effective in such a short period of time.