Mexico has received this Thursday more than 1.2 million doses of AstraZeneca that arrive on loan from the United States. This is the second shipment agreed between the two countries to “share” vaccines and advance in the fight against the pandemic. As part of the agreement, the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador will have to reimburse the biologics sent with other doses of AstraZeneca or other vaccines, although authorities on both sides of the border have not revealed more details about the exchange.
“We thank President Biden and his team for the support provided to this priority of Mexico,” the Secretary of Foreign Relations, Marcelo Ebrard, wrote on his social networks. The bilateral agreement calls for a total of 2.7 million doses of AstraZeneca. The first shipment of 1.5 million arrived last Sunday and was the first batch of vaccines to leave the United States. The United States, the country that has administered the most vaccines in the world, has opted for a nationalist vaccination policy, although it has opened the possibility of “sharing” vaccines with other countries as the immunization of its inhabitants progresses. The United States also announced the shipment of 1.5 million doses to Canada, in an attempt to strengthen its diplomatic relations with its North American allies.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has not been approved for emergency use in the United States and the plant that has the Swedish-British laboratory in West Chester, Ohio, has stored tens of millions of doses that have not been used for weeks. Mexico, on the other hand, gave the green light to the antigen developed by the University of Oxford since last January 5 and it is the main bet of its vaccination plan: with around 80 million doses acquired in various contracts.
The Latin American country opted for the local packaging of AstraZeneca doses, a strategy that has suffered problems due to bottlenecks in the supply chain. Mexico has not been able to apply any manufactured vaccine in its territory, but hopes that the obstacle will be unlocked from the third week of April, after the drugs go through quality tests so that they can be administered to the population. The batch received from the United States, according to Ebrard, will focus on completing the second doses for people who received this vaccine in mid-February, about 870,000. The rest, it is inferred, will be used to advance vaccination in Mexico City, the most populated area affected by the pandemic in the country.
Mexico last week exceeded the threshold of 200,000 deaths from covid in official figures, although the Government acknowledged that this number may increase to 320,000 deaths associated with the virus. On Wednesday, the country broke its record for doses administered in a single day, applying more than 467,000. Health authorities are challenged to accelerate the rate of vaccination and increase coverage. Mexico, one of the economic powers of Latin America, is slower than countries like Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. The goal set by the López Obrador Administration is to vaccinate more than 15 million adults over 60 years of age before the end of April, after failing to meet the initial forecast of achieving it in March.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.