China is conducting clinical trials of 11 vaccines against the coronavirus disease, four of which are in phase 3, the country’s Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang said on Friday.

The New Zealand government has confirmed an in-principle agreement to purchase up to five million COVID-19 vaccines from Janssen Pharmaceuticals after clinical trials and regulatory approval.

The Research, Science and Innovation, Minister Roseline Woods, made the announcement in a statement issued on Thursday in Wellington.

“This agreement forms part of our portfolio approach to ensure that we have the ability to access a range of vaccine options, if and when a suitable vaccine is developed and approved,” Woods said.

It is an initial agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals and a formal advance purchase agreement is expected to be finalised in coming weeks,” Woods said.

The agreement with Janssen would see the first doses of up to two million delivered from the third quarter of 2021, with the option to purchase up to three million additional doses, which would be delivered throughout 2022, she said.

“A key point of difference for the Janssen vaccine is that it’s likely to be a single-dose vaccine and is compatible with standard vaccine distribution channels, so it may potentially be more efficient to administer,” said the minister.

Woods said Janssen, along with its parent company Johnson & Johnson, have a very strong track record producing safe and effective pharmaceutical products for use globally and in New Zealand.

This announcement follows the government’s recent agreement to purchase 1.5 million doses of vaccine, enough for 750,000 people, from Pfizer and BioNTech, and works alongside other aspects of the COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy.

This will include membership of the global COVAX facility, according to the statement.

Woods said negotiations with other pharmaceutical companies are progressing well.

The ministry of health is preparing for a range of vaccine scenarios and how best to sequence the delivery of vaccines once supply becomes available, she added.

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