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Vaccination against coronavirus: Mexico intensifies efforts to acquire compromised vaccines and more doses from the United States

The Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard (left) and the President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, this Wednesday during the telephone call with the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris.
The Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard (left) and the President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, this Wednesday during the telephone call with the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris.PRESIDENCY OF MEXICO / Reuters

The United States is the key element in the sustainability of the vaccination campaign against covid-19 launched in Mexico, where it has barely exceeded 10 million doses applied in a country with almost 130 million inhabitants. At least in the short term, the Joe Biden Administration is the only one that can guarantee that the rate of immunization, which has not yet covered the entire population over 60 years of age and lags behind other countries in the region such as Argentina , Brazil or Chile, do not stagnate even more. Faced with a horizon of probable shortages, the Government has intensified its diplomatic strategy and the Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, announced this week that he plans to travel to Russia, China and India to secure the agreements already signed. But the immediate priority is the neighbor to the north, where this tour will close, which has already delivered 2.7 million doses of AstraZeneca.

As of this week, Mexico has six vaccines approved by the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris). The last one, the Indian Covaxin, is added to the other five authorized drugs, from AstraZeneca, CanSino, Sinovac, Pfizer and Sputnik V. Today the second CanSino delivery was made, more than 434,000 doses packed in Querétaro. Ebrard will also travel soon to China and Russia to ensure that shipments like this continue, which on paper are huge but may face delays as has already happened. The country expects from China about 34 million roads and from Russia about 24 million Sputnik V applications. The objective of the Mexican Foreign Minister’s tour, they point out from Foreign Affairs, is to try to expedite the fulfillment of the acquired commitments.

The country has received a total of around 15 million vaccines, that is, only 6% of the more than 250 million it has acquired. The authorities are aware that manufacturers are producing at forced marches, but at the same time the main producing countries are about to enter the most intensive and massive phase of vaccination campaigns. For this reason, they are exploring various paths, which also go through their own production, as already planned. On the horizon is the distribution of the AstraZeneca doses that have begun to be packaged in Mexico City despite the delays and that are awaiting approval, foreseeably in the coming weeks. These batches are part of the agreement reached with the Argentine government of Alberto Fernández, one of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s allies in the region, which includes production in the South American country, packaging in Mexico and distribution of the drugs in the rest. from Latin America.

Mexico has officially registered more than 205,000 deaths, although its health authorities recognize an underreporting of deaths that can exceed 60% In general terms, it is the third country in the world most affected by the pandemic, while Washington faces a vastly more outlook. clear. The US Administration announced that as of April 19 it will allow all adults to request an appointment to be vaccinated and in the border states the pace of the campaign has been very accelerated. The daily exchanges between the two countries, which share a border of more than 3,000 kilometers, led the United States to send a batch of 1.5 million vials at the end of March, the first to be handed over to a foreign government. Another shipment of 1.2 million arrived last week. A gesture that the Mexican Government deeply appreciates, but which is still insufficient to meet the country’s needs.

“Of course, the United States for obvious reasons is the country with which we have the most relationship. They are going at a good pace in their vaccination, it is very important to us that they continue to support us ”, said Ebrard on Tuesday when announcing his international tour. And this Wednesday, the Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE), Martha Delgado, stated in an interview with Bloomberg that the US authorities recognize “the need for Mexico to quickly access vaccines in the months of April, May and June”. He has spoken of a “permanent request” and has highlighted the commercial, economic and human links between the countries.

The United States is aware of this and of the risks posed by further delays even for the region, and Ebrard himself admitted on Tuesday that “inequality in access has also increased.” The equitable distribution of drugs and distribution in developing countries were one of Mexico’s central demands before the United Nations Security Council and also occupied a good part of the agenda of the meeting that Biden and Biden had at the beginning of March. López Obrador. And along the same lines, this Wednesday the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a resolution that urges, among other urgencies, to “promote the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines.”

Other priorities that have to do directly with the United States are also added to Mexico’s diplomatic strategy against the pandemic. In this context, López Obrador and the US Vice President, Kamala Harris, held a conversation today to improve collaboration to achieve “regular, orderly and safe migration.” At this point, the Mexican authorities have been demanding from Washington for months more direct investment in the region, especially in the Central American countries, which at the end of last year suffered the devastating effects of the hurricanes Iota Y And.

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