NZ records 21 cases, vaccine relief on way

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand will complete an Australia-style swap deal for Pfizer vaccine this week.

New Zealand has seen a surge in vaccination rates during the country's latest outbreak as Kiwis rush to inoculate themselves against COVID-19.

Ms Ardern says NZ has been vaccinating Kiwis at "180 per cent" of previous rates, faster than the UK, USA, Canada or Australia did during their peaks.

The surge in demand threatened to derail the rollout, and Ms Ardern admitted needing to curb demand without the arrival of new vaccine.

Now, relief appears to be at hand.

On Tuesday, she confirmed a "complex" deal which involved "extensive multi-party negotiations" will see extra vaccine arrive this month.

"The government quickly reached out to Pfizer and overseas partners (after the surge). These rapid negotiations have been taken place over the past two weeks," Ms Ardern said.

"They will enable us to continue that additional surge capacity through September."

Ms Ardern said the total doses arriving and the partner countries would come when contracts were signed.

NZ plans to vaccinate every consenting Kiwi adult with Pfizer this year.

Drawing the ire of opposition parties, the government planned to deliver the bulk of those jabs in the last five months of 2021, and so negotiated a deal with millions of doses arriving in October.

Instead, the swap deal will allow the rollout to continue at enhanced pace.

Since the identification of its first Delta outbreak on August 17, NZ has spent three weeks in a national lockdown fighting the highly infectious Delta variant.

During that same time, health authorities have administered 1.412 million doses in three weeks, or 28 per cent of the entire population.

While vaccination numbers have skyrocketed, cases have plummeted.

On Tuesday, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield announced 21 new cases.

That's a small increase from the previous three days, when health authorities reported 20 new cases, but well down from the peak of 83.

"All the numbers are moving in the right direction which is reassuring," Dr Bloomfield said.

All of Tuesday's cases were identified in Auckland.

Dr Bloomfield also revealed 39 Kiwis are being treated in hospital, with six in intensive care and four on ventilators.

The new cases bring the total outbreak to 841 people, with 147 recovered.

On Wednesday, the 3.4 million Kiwis who live outside the Auckland region will leave lockdown.

A lack of cases outside Auckland has given the government confidence to shift alert levels from three to two from 11.59pm on Tuesday.

Auckland will remain in level four lockdown for at least another week.

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