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Mexico’s Foreign Minister Plans U.S Trip to Secure Vaccine Doses

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Michael O'Boyle
·3-min read
Mexico’s Foreign Minister Plans U.S Trip to Secure Vaccine Doses
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(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard will soon travel to the U.S. to press for more vaccines from its northern neighbor to help get through a supply crunch during the next three months, a top official said Wednesday.

Ebrard will make the trip to thank the U.S. for the “rapid” delivery of 2.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Deputy Foreign Minister Martha Delgado told Bloomberg News in an interview. Ebrard will also keep pushing for more doses, she said.

Delgado said there was a “permanent petition” for any available vaccines from the U.S., such as the AstraZeneca shot that has yet to be approved by regulators there.

“The U.S. government recognizes Mexico’s need to be able to access vaccines quickly in the months of April, May and June” before more shipments from its portfolio of suppliers start arriving, Delgado said.

She said she was confident the U.S. could provide more doses due to the deep ties between the countries in the North American trade bloc and the risks for the region if Mexico falls far behind in fighting Covid-19. “It is not just an economic integration, it’s a human integration,” she said. “The U.S. understand this very well.”

Mexico is ramping up its vaccination pace, now running at about 360,000 doses per day after delivering nearly 9.3 million doses. At this rate, it will take a projected 1.4 years to cover 75% of the population with a two-dose vaccine.

How Vaccine Nationalism Risks Prolonging the Pandemic: QuickTake

Mexico has just produced its own first lot of AstraZeneca from a factory in the capital, Delgado said. That batch is being analyzed and the first locally produced AstraZeneca vaccines for Mexico and Latin America will be available by the end of April or the start of May, she said.

Delgado said production at the factory had been delayed by a series of problems, including difficulties in obtaining a type of filter from a subsidiary of Merck & Co.

Rising vaccine nationalism remains a threat to deals, Delgado said, pointing to restrictions in the U.S., Europe, Russia, China and India. She said her ambassador in Europe had to ask weekly for permission on Pfizer shipments.

“If there has not been an impact on Mexico yet, it is because Mexico decided to go through the diplomatic channel to speak with pharmaceutical companies and it is through a diplomatic negotiation not just a commercial deal,” she said. “But the risk is latent and we live with it every day.”

Ebrard will soon visit China and Russia as part of Mexico’s vaccine negotiations, but no date was set for the U.S. visit yet, Delgado said. Mexico has a good supply of vaccines after the current bottlenecks are surpassed by July or August, she said.

Last month, Mexico became the third country with more than 200,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths, trailing only U.S. and Brazil, countries with much larger populations. However, the government said in a report that excess deaths for 2020 and early 2021 exceeded 417,000, more than double the official number of fatalities from the pandemic.

(Updates with comments on risks from vaccine nationalism in paragraphs eight-nine.)

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