New Zealand signs deal with Pfizer, BioNTech for COVID-19 vaccine

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - The New Zealand government signed a deal on Monday to buy 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc PFE.N and Germany's BioNTech 22UAy.F, with delivery potentially as early as the first quarter of 2021.

The government did not disclose financial terms of the deal, its first vaccine purchase, which will provide enough doses to vaccinate 750,000 people.

Officials said talks were continuing with other drug companies to secure more vaccine supplies for the country of 5 million people and further announcements were expected next month.

“The additional agreements will ensure that once the portfolio is completed, we will have sufficient COVID-19 vaccines for the whole population,” Research Minister Megan Woods said in a statement.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is one of the leading candidates in the race to be the first to get regulatory approval in the United States and Europe.

New Zealand appeared to have stamped out community transmission of COVID-19 earlier this year following a tough nationwide lockdown. A renewed outbreak in the city of Auckland in August was also brought under control with fresh lockdown measures.

The country has reported just over 1,500 cases, including 25 deaths, far less than most other developed nations.

Reporting by Renju Jose; editing by Jane Wardell