Published 25 June 2024

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“We acknowledge the decisions announced by the Government today, to conduct a second inquiry phase into New Zealand’s COVID-19 response, and the likely range of additional topics it will consider.

“Our current terms of reference are broad enough to allow us to look at a wide range of COVID-19 related topics, like mandates, lockdowns, and social impacts such as the impact on education and mental health.  However, we recognise there are specific areas that people have said they would like considered and that’s been reflected in what has been outlined by the Government.

“The Government has announced that the second phase will – among other things – consider 'the use of vaccines during the pandemic, specifically, mandates, approval processes and safety including the monitoring and reporting of adverse reactions'.  An inquiry into vaccine safety and adverse events is not part of our current terms of reference, and will be a useful addition. We are already looking at vaccine mandates which requires us to also consider vaccine effectiveness as it was integral to the overall elimination strategy.  We also know that the use of vaccines is a really important topic for many people.

“It is important to understand in general how effective vaccines are at preventing death, preventing hospitalisation, and preventing transmission, because the ethical case for vaccine mandates is stronger if vaccines also stop transmission.

“We would like to acknowledge the tremendous contribution made by the many individuals, communities, and organisations across Aotearoa New Zealand that the Royal Commission has met with so far, and the thousands of people who shared their experiences and feedback through our public submissions process earlier this year.

“Thank you for trusting us with your COVID-19 experience. 

“The vast amount of information we have gathered, and the diverse experiences we have heard about, are all helping to inform our report that will be completed by the end of November this year as phase one of the Inquiry.

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic required all New Zealanders to take extraordinary actions, and that the pandemic has had significant, ongoing effects on the nation.

“That is why it is so important that New Zealand learns the lessons from the past, to ensure we are prepared for any future pandemics.

“We feel deeply privileged to serve as Commissioners, and look forward to completing this first phase over the coming months.

“We appreciate the Government’s decision to extend the Royal Commission’s reporting date from 30 September to 28 November.

“The extension means we can fully analyse and consider the thousands of submissions we received from the New Zealand public earlier this year.”