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COVID-19 Update: Vaccination for Teens; Pfizer’s Pill

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 11/17/2021 - 11:01

Teenagers between 15-17 years old with no comorbidities can now register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico. The news arrived the same day Pfizer announced it will produce and sell its COVID-19 medicine at a reduced price in undeveloped countries.

In Mexico, vaccination for children and teenagers was available only to those with comorbidities and for those whose parents got a legal protection (amparo) to obtain the vaccine. But concerns for unvaccinated children and adolescents grew rapidly as return to in-person classes begun. 

Mexico’s lack of vaccination campaigns for children and teenagers had been criticized by the public. At a presentation with the Chamber of Deputies, Minister of Health, Jorge Alcocer had defended the decision to not vaccinate those under 18 years old, arguing that their immune system would do so. “How are we going to hinder that learning stage of their immune system that will defend them all their lives with the arrival of a totally inorganic structure such as a vaccine? I will answer, I am not vaccinating my grandchildren."

The Ministry of Health seems to be changing its tune. This Monday it announced that teenagers between the ages of 15-17 will be able to register for a jab on Friday, Nov. 19, said Deputy Minister of Health Hugo López-Gatell. “Children under 15 years of age will not be vaccinated because, according to the analysis, the mortality rate for this segment of the population is extremely low,” he explained.

López-Gatell said there will be a special emphasis on the inoculation of pregnant teenagers, since due to their condition they face greater risks of complications from the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

As national campaigns are advance, manufacturers are being urged by the WHO to equally distribute their products, which might have influenced Pfizer’s recent decision to produce and sell its COVID-19 pill at a reduced price in undeveloped nations.

Through an alliance with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), Pfizer announced the signing of a voluntary license agreement for its COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment candidate that is administered in combination with low dose ritonavir. The agreement will enable MPP to facilitate additional production and distribution of the candidate antiviral, pending regulatory authorization or approval, by granting sub-licenses to qualified generic medicine manufacturers to facilitate access to the global population.

The agreement states that qualified generic medicine manufacturers worldwide that are granted sub-licenses will be able to supply the antiviral treatment candidate in combination with ritonavir to 95 countries, covering up to approximately 53 percent of the world’s population. This includes all low and lower-middle-income countries and some upper-middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as countries that have transitioned from lower-middle to upper-middle-income status in the past five years.

Additionally, “Pfizer will not receive royalties on sales in low-income countries and will further waive royalties on sales in all countries covered by the agreement while COVID-19 remains classified as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the WHO,” stated Pfizer’s official communicate on the agreement.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst