New Zealand regulator approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

WELLINGTON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - New Zealand medicines regulator Medsafe has provisionally approved the use of a COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc and German’s BioNTech, the government said on Wednesday.

“The provisional approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a positive step in New Zealand’s fight against COVID-19,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement. “It means we can now begin preparations for the first stage in our vaccination roll-out.”

The vaccines are expected to arrive in New Zealand by the end of the first quarter, the government said, adding people at highest risk would be vaccinated first before the broader community from the second half of the year.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Jane Wardell