Covid-19 vaccine not a ‘magic bullet’, NZ expert warns

The arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in New Zealand next week will not signal the end of the pandemic, says vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris.

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New Zealand vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris warns against complacency after vaccinations against Covid-19 start.
Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The country’s 12,000 border workers will receive their first Covid-19 jab over the next three weeks.

Petousis-Harris, an associate professor from the University of Auckland, said the vaccination programme was the beginning of the end of the Covid crisis, but it would take time before life returned to normal.

“It’s not a magic bullet. You can’t vaccinate your first frontline border worker and then expect to just give up on everything else. You’ve got to keep this up until you’ve actually beaten this thing back,” she said.

“It’s still out there. There are still places really struggling with the disease, so you’ve just got to be aware of that.”

Millions of people around the world have already received the Pfizer vaccine, which does not contain any live virus.

“That means that people who have got quite compromised immune systems are not at risk of a live virus replicating,” Petousis-Harris said.

“You cannot get Covid or anything from these vaccines, so they’re going to be very safe for pretty much everybody.”

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