Monday December 6: 4pm

The Government has purchased a new medicine from Pfizer which early research has shown could dramatically reduce the hospitalisation and death of people who catch Covid-19.

At the 4pm press conference today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Government has signed an agreement with Pfizer to purchase 60,000 courses of a new antiviral pill from Pfizer to combat Covid-19.

While Pfizer has only released early and interim data, Ardern said clinical trials have shown an 89 percent reduction in hospitalisation and death from Covid-19. 

“Put in simple terms, this drug, taken orally over the course of a few days, is the first of its kind to really hone in on coronavirus and can be taken at the first sign of symptoms to stop people from getting really unwell,” Ardern said.

“It is a big step forward for the treatment of Coronavirus internationally.”

This is the second advance purchase agreement for an oral antiviral, with the Government also pre-purchasing 60,000 courses of Molnupiravir’s product. 

The release of these products was dependent on approval by New Zealand medical safety authority, Medsafe. Ardern said this review was expected to happen early next year.

However, while a drug like this may help us reduce harm created by the virus, Ardern emphasised it will still be necessary to maintain many of the protections put in place against Covid-19. 

“While the drug will work for people early on in their illness, they may have already been sick for a day or two. Which is why we need to maintain an effective contact tracing, testing and clinical assessment regime so that we reach people in a timely way so these drugs can have their full benefit.”

“Of course, preventing people from getting Covid in the first place through vaccinations and safety nets built into the traffic system is still the best protection we can offer. We don’t want to wait until people are unwell and then treat them,” Ardern said.

New Zealand is projected to hit 90 percent double dose on December 14 or 15,  just as the Auckland border reopens.


Monday December 6: 1pm

There are 135 new cases of Covid-19 today, with 125 cases in Auckland, eight in Waikato, and two in Canterbury.

There were three cases of Covid-19 reported in the Hawkes Bay over the weekend, but no new cases today.

There are currently 76 people in hospital with Covid-19, seven of whom are in the intensive or high dependency care units.

The average age of those in hospital is 48 years old.

Aotearoa just had its first weekend using the new traffic light system, which eased many restrictions for Auckland.

Under this system, it is now necessary to use a My Vaccine Pass to enter many public spaces - including hospitality venues and some retail stores.

3.7 million My Vaccine Passes have now been issued, with 82,000 created yesterday.

To get the My Vaccine Pass, you need either two doses of the AstraZenca or Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand, two approved doses from overseas, or a medical exemption. 

88 percent of eligible New Zealanders have now had two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, and 93 percent have had one dose.

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