The reality behind the sale of COVID-19 vaccines in Mexico: a dirty business that takes advantage of despair

(Photo: REUTERS / Edgard Garrido)
(Photo: REUTERS / Edgard Garrido)

It took five days, from the arrival of the first batch of Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines to Mexico – on December 23, 2020 – for them to begin to circulate advertisements of false sales of the doses. Between 2,000 and 3,000 pesos, the supposed cost. In Mexico City, the State of Mexico or Quintana Roo, for example. Through Facebook, WhatsApp and apocryphal pages … But the truth is that the sale of this drug to individuals has not been completed in Mexican territory.

The same pharmacist made it clear: “The Pfizer / BioNTech Vaccine for COVID-19 is not for sale in any private channel for the moment. We have detected some non-Pfizer sites and phone numbers where the vaccine is offered for sale by third parties. This information is false”.

(Photo: Courtesy of the Presidency)
(Photo: Courtesy of the Presidency)

The news agency Reuters dived into the dark web (obscura web): found, in the messaging application Telegram, seven different offers of suspected COVID-19 vaccines.

In this application, several channels claimed to offer vaccines against covid-19, accompanied by archive images. A user offered the supposed vaccines of Modern for $ 180 (just over 3,500 pesos), stated that the vaccine Pfizer / BioNTech was available for $ 150 and of AstraZeneca for $ 110 (over 2,000 pesos) per vial.

Another case of these false sales is the page pfizermx.com, a website that poses as a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company in Mexico. It even claims to have its face-to-face facilities in Toluca, State of Mexico. They also explain that, although the priority for vaccination in Mexico at the moment is health personnel, orders can already be made to buy vaccines from a telephone number shown on the page.

(Screenshot of the apocryphal page)
(Screenshot of the apocryphal page)

“Our purpose and our mission at the Toluca Plant, since 1958, is to be a national and regional drug supply center. Our production is oriented to satisfy the needs of our patients in an agile, reliable way and with the highest quality. From our Toluca Plant we serve the Human Health division and the Health Consumption division ”, says the description of the supposed portal.

The Undersecretary of Health and spokesman for the Mexican strategy against COVID-19, Hugo López-Gatell clarified: “It is an apocryphal address that does not correspond to Pfizer Mexico and we are taking actions to inactivate it and prosecute the alleged crime of fraud.”

And in one more episode, the same official also denied a virus vaccine fraud that was taking place in the state of Quintana Roo. This after the Ministry of Health of that entity alerted its citizens about false Pfizer pharmaceutical staff who came house to house with the argument that they were collecting data to prepare vaccination in that area.

“People presented themselves as vaccination brigades. So far there are no vaccination brigades in Quintana Roo for the Pfizer vaccine, for any vaccine against CovidLópez-Gatell emphasized and added that the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) has already been notified to take legal measures against those responsible for these events.

(Photo: Courtesy of the Presidency)
(Photo: Courtesy of the Presidency)

The sale of vaccines is not authorized in Mexico yet

Pfizer also endorsed its support in the eradication of the health emergency and reminded users that lThe doses will only be applied according to the strategies stipulated by the Mexican government.

The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine will be supplied exclusively in accordance with the National Vaccination Plan presented by the authorities. We reiterate our commitment to continue contributing to face the COVID-19 pandemic, “said the pharmaceutical company through its Twitter account.

For his part, López-Gatell reiterated to the public that in Mexico “There is no authorization for the sale of vaccine, so far, no vaccine sales authorization. If someone tries to sell you a COVID vaccine, they are committing fraud and putting you at risk”.

A member of the military medical staff receives a dose of the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine against COVID-19 at the General Hospital in Mexico City (Photo: REUTERS / Edgard Garrido)
A member of the military medical staff receives a dose of the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine against COVID-19 at the General Hospital in Mexico City (Photo: REUTERS / Edgard Garrido)

Since last December 28, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador clarified that your government would not oppose companies that want to buy the vaccine anticovid abroad and then sell them in pharmacies in Mexico. But, he stressed, no company has requested permission to buy vaccines, and nowhere in the world are they being commercialized.

In order to commercialize the vaccine, explained an expert in pharmaceutical and biotechnology communication Xavier Tello, companies such as Pfizer still have requirements to meet –at least in the case of Mexico– to obtain the sanitary registration. And it is that until now, the Cofepris only authorized the emergency use of the dose. ANDThis is because no company has yet completed the scientific and development process of producing the doses for private sale or commercialization … and there is no date for that yet.

Until now, in Mexico, some 48,236 people have already received the first dose of Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines against COVID-19.

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The truth behind the supposed COVID-19 vaccine that they would sell at Walmart

“There are no vaccination brigades in Quintana Roo for the Pfizer vaccine”: López Gatell warned of possible vaccine fraud

Red Zones: CJNG and other drug cartels threaten COVID-19 vaccine distribution

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