Mexico embraces AstraZeneca vaccine to speed inoculation

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

Mexico City, Mar 16 (efe-epa).- Even as some countries have suspended use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine amid concerns that it can cause blood clots, Mexico is negotiating with the United States to obtain some of Washington’s stockpile of the vaccine developed by the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker in partnership with Oxford University.

Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s administration has promised to let Mexico know by Friday how many doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine – yet to be authorized for use in the US – Washington is prepared to make available.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador broached the subject with his US counterpart during a March 1 virtual summit that was the first substantive exchange between the two leaders since Biden took office on Jan. 20.

“The negotiation with the United States that derived from the president’s conversation with President Biden is going very well, but I will not provide the details until they are finalized, but I am optimistic,” Ebrard said at Lopez Obrador’s daily morning press conference.

Spain, Germany, France and Italy are among the countries that have paused vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns that it is linked to thrombosis and embolisms.

Scientists at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are due to present Thursday an analysis of the possible connection between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.

In a statement released Monday evening, the EMA said that “the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalization and death, outweigh the risks of side effects.”

The EMA executive director conveyed a similar message Tuesday during a press conference in Amsterdam.

“At present, there is no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions. They have not come up in the clinical trials and they are not listed as known or expected side events with this vaccine,” Emer Cooke said.

The epidemiologist coordinating Mexico’s pandemic response, Hugo Lopez-Gatskell, said Monday that he has seen no evidence pointing to the AstroZeneca vaccine as the cause of blood clots.

Mexico, with nearly 195,000 fatalities, trails only the US and Brazil in coronavirus deaths. Authorities in the Aztec nation have identified only 91 instances of serious side effects among the 4.4 million people who have been vaccinated.

“Pharmaceutical companies and governments are helping us,” Lopez Obrador said Tuesday. “It’s very important that we have relations with all governments. “Russia, China, India are helping us, also those (governments) of the European Union.”

Mexico, a nation of 127 million people, has received 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Sputnik V vaccines

Starting next week, the size of the weekly shipment of Pfizer vaccine from Belgium will double, Ebrard said, adding that the government has reached an agreement to obtain 20 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine by July 1.

“To sum up, the arrival of vaccines in Mexico is going to accelerate,” the foreign secretary said. EFE


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