New Zealand has allocated an undisclosed sum, in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars, to access COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.
The funding is on top of a NZ$37 million vaccine strategy, but the government has not released specifics because of commercial sensitivities that “could prevent the best possible deal for New Zealanders”.
Apart from the intricacies of global efforts to develop, test and distribute a vaccine, there are also domestic legal issues the government might need to consider, particularly in patent law and the regulatory review of medicines.
Legislative changes to future-proof the law could avoid delays and lower access costs.
Patent law and access
Some fear pharmaceutical companies could patent a COVID-19 vaccine and hold the world hostage, demanding monopoly prices.
But to get a patent the invention has to be novel and non-obvious. There is possibly enough public information about vaccines currently under investigation