Malaghan initiates national COVID-19 vaccine programme


On Friday 24 April, Malaghan announced they would be pushing ahead with work on a COVID-19 vaccine development programme in anticipation that the Government will announce a broader vaccine strategy, including research, pre-budget.

In a recent interview with the ODT, Malaghan Institute's Professor Graham Le Gros said there “are people shovel-ready to get stuck in. I didn’t wait for permission. We’re already doing it. We’ve got a great team actually going for it, and I hope we get permission eventually."

The move follows publication of an essay in the New Zealand Medical Journal calling for a national COVID-19 vaccine programme. More than 120 national and international scientists have signed their name to the paper.

The article, written by the University of Otago's Associate Professor James Ussher and Professor Miguel Quiñones-Mateu, the Malaghan Institute's Professor Graham Le Gros, and Avalia Immunotherapies' Dr Shivali A Gulab and Melissa Yiannoutsos, lays out the case for New Zealand to have its own COVID-19 vaccine programme to ensure its protection, health and economic viability.

It recommends:

  • Initiating a programme to evaluate the best vaccines being developed internationally with scalable potential in New Zealand, to be accessible to the entire population.
  • In parallel, progressing COVID-19 vaccine development programmes nationally and through global partnerships (in particular with Australia), involving leading research institutions, government and industry.
  • Building capability for vaccine production sufficient to rapidly vaccinate everyone in New Zealand when a vaccine becomes approved either nationally or internationally for public use.
  • Developing a plan for how a vaccine will be rolled out and who should receive it first.

Further information

Date posted: 28 April 2020

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