Mexico City, May 25 (EFE).- An effort by Mexico and Argentina to jointly produce the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca will make Latin America’s immunization process less dependent on the rest of the world, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said Tuesday in a video call with Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
He made that assertion after announcing during Lopez Obrador’s daily press conference that an initial batch of 800,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be shipped to Argentina from Mexico this weekend after a months-long delay. An equal number of doses resulting from that initiative will be distributed simultaneously in Mexico.
“It’s a very important start. Its value and importance” deserve to be recognized, he said of the bi-national agreement that was announced last August and has major funding from the foundation of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
Under a technology-transfer deal with AstraZeneca, the active ingredients of that pharmaceutical company’s AZD-1222 vaccine are being produced in Buenos Aires by Mabxience SA and sent to Mexico, where packaging and distribution of the product is being carried out by Laboratorios Liomont.
Fernandez underscored the importance of Latin America unity, saying it will enable the region to cope better with the current pandemic and, in a broader sense, arrive at solutions for improving people’s lives.
The Argentine head of state thanked Lopez Obrador and stressed that Mexico has always opened its arms to Argentines in difficult moments.
The Mexican president said for his part that sufficient batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been produced for Mexico and Argentina, as well as for other countries of the Latin American and the Caribbean region.
He said his administration will always work in a coordinated and supportive manner with the Argentine government and stressed that “we’re united in the same cause: looking out for the well-being of our peoples. That’s why this initiative is so important.”
For her part, Argentine Health Minister Carla Vizzotti, who is in Mexico to “closely monitor the process for the release” of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 doses, said it is a very important day for both nations.
“We are convinced that health is the engine for social and economic development,” she said.
Vizzotti added that Mexico’s and Argentina’s health teams held a productive meeting aimed at seeking solutions to various challenges.
Each vaccine that is administered represents “a lower risk of hospitalization and death for each person who receives it,” she said.
Argentina is currently mired in its most difficult phase of the pandemic, with a third coronavirus wave having led to record numbers of daily confirmed cases (40,000 last Wednesday) and deaths attributed to Covid-19 (745 last Tuesday) over the past week.
That South American country has reported more than 3.5 million confirmed cases and nearly 75,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The situation in Mexico, by contrast, has improved in recent days, with the country registering its lowest daily death toll of the year on Monday (48).
Since the start of the health emergency, Mexico has reported nearly 2.4 million confirmed cases and the fourth-most Covid-19 deaths worldwide (221,000) after the United States, Brazil and India. EFE