Mexico working to develop own Covid-19 vaccine by year’s end

By Juan Manuel Ramirez G.

Mexico City, Mar 9 (efe-epa) .- Mexico not only has multiple agreements in place with international pharmaceutical companies but also is working on its own Covid-19 vaccine projects, a task being carried out by several different universities.

Authorities want any successful Mexican-developed vaccine candidate to be christened “Patria” (Fatherland).

Using limited resources and working at a slower pace than the countries and pharmaceutical companies that have developed and are already mass-producing vaccines worldwide, the Biomedical Research Institute (IIBm) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); the Michoacan University of Saint Nicholas of Hidalgo; and the Autonomous University of Queretaro, among others, are making strides in their research.

The former two aim to have a vaccine fully developed by year’s end, while the latter says the one it has been developing is now ready.

The main priority of all three universities is to offer the public a low-cost vaccine.

“Development is going more slowly because we had to acquire a lot of materials before starting our research,” Edda Sciutto, research coordinator at UNAM’s IIBm, said in an interview with Efe on Tuesday.

Mexico has registered more than 2.13 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 190,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19 (third-most worldwide) since the start of the pandemic.

The country was one of the first to launch a Covid-19 vaccine rollout (on Dec. 24), but thus far only 2.84 million vaccine doses have been administered in a nation of 126 million people.

To speed up the campaign, Mexico has pre-purchased 34.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, 79.4 million of the one developed by the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca, 35 million of the vaccine developed by China’s CanSino, 24 million of Russia’s Sputnik V and 51.4 million vaccine doses through the World Health Organization’s Covax mechanism.

Juan Pedro Laclette, an expert in basic biomedical research at the UNAM who is participating in the same project, said the fact that Mexico has the ability to develop it own Covid-19 vaccine is a demonstration of its “true sovereignty”.

Mexico “should focus its efforts on developing the capacity to respond to (future) epidemiological emergencies,” he said.

Work also is being carried out at the Michoacan University of Saint Nicholas of Hidalgo to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

A research professor at that university’s Multidisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Studies, Alejandro Bravo Patiño, one of the project leaders, said a series of experiments and development processes must be carried out.

He said the vaccine is a “mosaic” type that consists of the different fragments of the various proteins that make up the virus.

“By the end of the year, we hope to have an industrial-scale prototype to begin the phase 1, 2 and 3 trials required by the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (Cofepris),” he told Efe.

“The virus is here to stay and new variants are emerging that are posing interesting challenges to the vaccines are already in use. I think we arrived just in time to help alleviate this disease that’s affecting the entire world,” he said. EFE-EPA


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