Covid vaccinations will start this month; the government buys 34mn of doses from Pfizer

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The federal government has reached a deal with U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer to purchase more than 34 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine, the first 250,000 of which are expected to arrive in Mexico this month.

The Health Ministry announced on Twitter that Health Minister Jorge Alcocer on Wednesday signed an agreement with Pfizer for the manufacture and supply of 34.4 million doses of the vaccine he developed with German BioNTech. The vaccine was 95% effective in Phase 3 trials and caused no serious safety concerns, Pfizer said in November.

“250,000 doses are expected to be received this month to protect Mexicans,” the health ministry said, adding that inoculation of health workers will be a priority.

President López Obrador said earlier on Wednesday that the government had allocated 20 billion pesos (just under $ 1 billion) for an initial purchase of Covid-19 vaccines, adding that Mexico had purchase agreements with companies other than Pfizer.

“The authorization process to [health regulator] Cofepris is in the process of being simplified, ”he said.

Health Minister Jorge Alcocer signs an agreement to buy the coronavirus vaccine.

Mexico’s deal with Pfizer comes the same day UK regulators granted emergency clearance for the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. Deployment in the UK, the first Western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, is expected to begin next week, with priority given to the elderly and their caregivers.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard acknowledged the UK’s approval in a Twitter message and said Cofepris had already received a request for permission here.

“The UK has authorized the vaccine developed by Pfizer. In Mexico, the regulatory authority (Ministry of Health-Cofepris) already has the corresponding application. What many people thought was impossible is now a reality: vaccination is about to start in December 2020, ”he writes.

Ebrard said last week that Pfizer would be responsible for transporting the vaccines – which must be stored at -70 ° C – to the point where they will be administered, while the Department of Health will be responsible for inoculation.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, the government’s coronavirus official, said on Tuesday that the military would help with the vaccination process.

The vaccines ordered will be enough to immunize 17.2 million people because each person must receive two injections, 21 days apart. With just 250,000 doses expected this month, only 125,000 Mexicans – about 0.1% of the population – will be able to be vaccinated by the end of the year.

Nevertheless, the news that a vaccine is on the way is undoubtedly good news for Mexico, which has been hit harder by the pandemic than most other countries in the world.

The cumulative number of cases rose to 1,122,362 on Tuesday with 8,819 new cases reported by the Ministry of Health. The total is the 11th highest in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

An additional 825 Covid-19-related deaths recorded by health authorities brought Mexico’s official death toll to 106,765 pandemic deaths, the fourth highest in the world after the United States, Brazil and India .

The number of cases and the death toll is widely believed to be much higher because Mexico has not tested widely for Covid-19.

Source: El Economista (sp), CNN (en)

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