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Mexico hopes to work with Cuba on covid vaccine Phase 3 trial


Mexico is in talks with Cuba to host part of a trial on a covid-19 vaccine in an effort to draw more supplies from international laboratories as doses run short in the country and the death tally grows.

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So far, just 0.5% of Mexico's population has received at least one vaccine against the coronavirus, compared with 11.5% in the U.S., according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker.

The country received 870,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from India on Sunday and is preparing to start inoculations of its elderly, officials said during a press briefing headed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Of the total, 10% will be channeled to Mexico City.

AMLO, as the president is known, pledged during the briefing from Oaxaca state to vaccinate more than 15 million people above 60 years of age by mid-April with at least a first dose.

Mexico is negotiating with Cuba to host part of a Phase 3 vaccine trial and will announce it once health regulator Cofepris approves it, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said. Cuba has four vaccine candidates in trials, the Wall Street Journal reported in January.

Mexico is racing to reach vaccine deals with several companies and nations, among them China, Russia and now Cuba, as inoculations remain slow. AMLO said Mexico is looking at developing its own vaccines.

So far, Mexico has inked deals with the United Nations's vaccine system COVAX, Pfizer/BioNTech and China's CanSino Biologics. The country was first in the region to start a vaccination plan in late December, but the pace has lagged.

Mexico reported 173,771 deaths from the virus as of Saturday night, the third most in the world. Total cases are approaching 2 million.

Other details from Sunday's press conference:

- The first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines are being sent to seven states by land and to the rest of Mexico's states by air so that all states receive some shots. Mexico City is getting 87,000 of the initial doses. AstraZeneca vaccines that arrived Sunday are ready to administer and another 1.2 million such doses from India are due to arrive in March. The Indian shipment was going to be reduced to 500,000 doses, but Mexico pressed India to deliver the full amount, AMLO said.

- Pfizer will deliver 490,000 vaccines on Tuesday and a second batch the following week, Ebrard said. The Pfizer batch will go toward second doses for health care workers.

- Vaccination of elderly will go ahead in all states, starting with 330 small towns, so that the least fortunate are also being vaccinated, AMLO said.

- Russia's Sputnik V vaccines are supposed to arrive next weekend.

- China's Sinovac is set to send Mexico 1 million doses in the coming days, Ebrard said.

Published : February 15, 2021

By : Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Fabiola Zerpa