Bell Gully supports MBIE in global negotiations on NZ COVID-19 vaccine portfolio

18 December 2020

Bell Gully is proud to have supported MBIE in its role leading New Zealand’s global negotiations for the Vaccine Strategy Task Force, advising officials from MBIE, the Ministry of Health, PHARMAC, MFAT and The Treasury on securing a portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines, with sufficient vaccines to cover the Realm of New Zealand (Tokelau, the Cook Islands and Niue) and New Zealand’s Polynesian neighbours (Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu) should their governments wish to take these up.

Partner Simon Watt, who headed the Bell Gully team, worked alongside officials supporting the Vaccine Strategy Task Force leading all negotiations with the multiple global vaccine suppliers and advising on various contractual, regulatory and logistical matters. He was well-supported by solicitor Matthias Schorer and a number of experts across the firm’s public law and tax​ teams, including consultant Kate Redgewell, partners Jenny Stevens, Graham Murray and Hugh Kettle, senior associates Rupert Rouch and Melissa Ahlefeldt, senior solicitors Laura Hardcastle and Hugh Magee and solicitors Alice Coppard, Gracey Farquharson and Andrew Hill.​

The four advance purchase agreements confirm New Zealand’s position to procure vaccines from four leading global manufacturers. As a result, 15 million vaccine courses have now been pre-ordered and every New Zealander who wishes to will be able to be vaccinated. This includes 750,000 courses from Pfizer/BioNTech, 5 million courses from Janssen, 3.8 million courses from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and 5.36 million courses from Novavax.

Earlier in the year, Bell Gully also advised the Government on concluding a binding Commitment Agreement to participate in the COVAX Facility – a global initiative to pool investment in vaccine development and equitably distribute doses worldwide. Under New Zealand’s contract, the Government will have the option to purchase doses for up to 50 percent of the population of New Zealand, Tokelau, Cook Islands and Niue.

The first vaccine from the advance purchase agreements is targeted to reach New Zealand in early 2021 and will likely be rolled out to border workers in the second quarter of 2021, with vaccination of the general population beginning in the second half of the year - this will be the country’s largest ever immunisation programme.

Simon Watt said it was an honour for the Bell Gully team to help the Vaccine Strategy Task Force secure a COVID-19 vaccine for New Zealand, the Realm and Polynesia.

“The pandemic has affected almost everyone across the globe this year – changing the way we live, work and interact. New Zealanders should be proud of the way in which officials across government agencies all worked together with a single-minded drive to secure vaccines for New Zealand and our neighbours in the Pacific while all the time being careful to safeguard the public interest. It was heartening to be involved in such practical, direct and constructive discussions – all held over Teams or Zoom, of course – between government officials and representatives of the vaccine manufacturers, who were also committed to making vaccine available to the people of New Zealand,” he said.

“To reach this position in such a short timeframe is testament to everyone involved – and we are pleased to have played our part.”​​