COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives to MexicoBy MBN Staff | Wed, 12/23/2020 - 12:45
A plane carrying the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine touched down in Mexico today, bringing optimism and hope to a nation that has suffered one of the world’s heaviest death tolls at the hands of the virus.
The plane arrived at Mexico City shortly after 9 AM, coming from Puurs, the north-eastern region of Belgium where the Pfizer plant producing the vaccine is located, after a stop in Cincinnati, reported El Universal.
It was met by Mexico’s COVID-19 tzar, Deputy Minister of Health Hugo Lopez-Gatell and Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard.
At yesterday’s mañanera, Ebrard told the press that today’s shipment would be the first of many as the country begins its vaccination campaign this month. “Between tomorrow and the last day of January, Mexico will receive 1,417,659 doses. The next shipment will be next Tuesday,” he said.
Mexico has also purchased 77.4 million doses of an alternative vaccine, produced by AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford, in the UK. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being used in the UK but Mexico has not yet authorized its use. It is expected to receive authorization by the end of January.
At today’s mañanera, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that vaccinations will begin tomorrow with health workers the first people to be vaccinated. The general population will be vaccinated according to vulnerability and age group after frontline health workers. The campaign is expected to finish in March 2022.
Mexico’s death toll from COVID-19 is due to hit 120,000 this week with only the US, Brazil and India reporting higher numbers. The country’s weak health service has been flooded with patients in areas including the capital, which on Saturday night returned to lockdown after cases rose at an alarming rate and hospital occupancy went above 75 percent.
Both the president and COVID-19 czar, Lopez-Gatell, have been criticized for their slow response to the virus. The president caused an uproar earlier this year when he claimed that a clean conscience helped him to remain virus free, while Lopez-Gatell shunned the importance of masks in reducing the spread of the virus.
Mexico has now reported over 1.3 million positive cases of COVID-19 according to data from John Hopkins University, though there have been concerns about the opaque nature of COVID-19 reporting in the country. In October, the director of Mexico’s National Center for Preventative Programs and Disease Control, Ruy López Ridaura, said that the official number of deaths at that point, 88,924, was likely “to be at least 50,000 higher,” The Guardian reported.