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Vaccine against COVID-19 would be free in Mexico


City workers put on a giant mask with a text written in Spanish that says “Get on the challenge, Iztapalapa zero contagions”, at the Cabeza de Juárez museum in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Iztapalapa, Mexico City, the Wednesday, August 12, 2020.

AP Photo

Mexico reached an agreement with Argentina and the AstraZeneca laboratory to produce a potential vaccine for COVID-19 that would be free to the population, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Thursday.

If it passes the last stage of testing or phase 3, the vaccine that was developed by the University of Oxford would be available to the region in the first quarter of next year.

According to what was announced, the vaccine would be manufactured in Argentina and Mexico would be responsible for packaging and distributing it throughout the region with the exception of Brazil, which already has its own agreement with the same pharmaceutical company signed in June.

The day before the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, gave the scoop on the agreement.

Sylvia Varela, president and general director of AstraZeneca in Mexico, said that the cost of each vaccine will be around four dollars, but López Obrador said that the government will absorb this expense so that it reaches all Mexicans free.

Previously, the Mexican president had said that the country had a reserve of up to 100,000 million pesos (about 4,500 million dollars) to buy COVID-19 vaccines, but the low cost will allow the expenditure to be less.

“This agreement will mean an amount less than 25,000 million (about 1,120 million dollars) so that all Mexicans, all, have access to the vaccine. It is said universal but sometimes it is not understood what the term universal means … it is for everyone and we have to comply with what is established in article four of the constitution, the right of the people to health and medical care, medicines and free vaccines, ”López Obrador said at a press conference.

The millionaire Carlos Slim’s foundation played an important role because it is the one that finances the agreement with Mexico and Argentina.

“As the objective is not profit, a foundation is sought, in this case the Slim Foundation that has been the promoter (promoter) of this agreement and then the Foundation, by participating, guarantees that production can effectively start in a timely manner,” he said. the Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. “And how do governments participate? We participate by ordering the vaccines corresponding to each country and guaranteeing their payment in due course … It is an association between public institutions, educational institutions, governments of various countries and a private foundation ”.

According to what was stated in the press conference, once the vaccine is ready, Mexico would be in charge of distributing it in the region and the cost will depend on what each government decides.

The pharmaceutical company announced that the agreement is for an initial dose of 150 million vaccines that would be distributed throughout the region.

“In other countries it may be that it is decided to charge or select who is vaccinated and who is not … All Mexicans will have access to the vaccine and there should be no concern for poor people, the most humble people are guaranteed the vaccine , the poorest people and they will not stay in the end, ”said López Obrador.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is one of several that are in various stages of testing around the world.

AstraZeneca closed a series of similar agreements around the world to distribute the experimental vaccine against COVID-19, which has had promising results in the first phases of testing.

Its agreements include the United States, Great Britain and the European Union, as well as with the Coalition for Innovations in Epidemic Preparedness – a public-private coalition based in Norway – and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, a public-private partnership. established in Geneva.

So-called phase 3 trials, like those for the AstraZeneca vaccine, typically last for months and involve thousands of people, the only way to show if an experimental vaccine is safe and if it really works.

The World Health Organization said that all potential vaccines must complete trial phases before being distributed. Experts have warned that failure to adhere to protocols can negatively impact health and create a false sense of security or undermine confidence in vaccines.