INAI Demands Transparency Regarding Sinovac VaccineBy Rodrigo Brugada | Tue, 06/29/2021 - 13:53
Mexico’s National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) ruled that COFEPRIS must deliver an electronic copy of the document that approves the use of the COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac in Mexico. The vaccine is manufactured by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech.
The ruling comes after a citizen’s request for information in April was denied by COFEPRIS. At the time, COFEPRIS said that the information was confidential, arguing that its dissemination could undermine national security, international relations, the safety of individuals and ongoing deliberation processes. COFEPRIS’s response document, issued in May, cites the General Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information’s Article 113, which allows for the classification of information as confidential when its publication could compromise national security, undermine the conduct of international relations or put at risk the life or health of a person. The commission also mentioned as justification that the evaluation process of the vaccine has not yet concluded.
An appeal to this decision was filed at INAI, which was then reviewed by the Presiding Commissioner, Blanca Lilia Ibarra Cadena. During the analysis, Ibarra determined that the justifications for the information withholding were not appropriate. Furthermore, she cited that the requested information does not compromise national security or negotiations and international relations. On this last point, INAI comments that COFEPRIS did not specify if there was any international negotiation or international relations issue. Likewise, the Ministry of International Relations’ (SRE) website for the vaccines acquisition contracts does not prove that there is another ongoing negotiation.
INAI also resolved that the requested information does not put at risk the life, safety or health of any specific individual, since it is a document that endorses the approval for the use of the vaccine that could be applied to the population so that by its very nature it does not imply a danger. Likewise, INAI established that although the evaluation process has not concluded, COFEPRIS has already authorized the CoronaVac vaccine through the New Molecules Committee (This link is cached because the official page was modified and no longer exists).
Consequently, INAI requested COFEPRIS to deliver a copy in an electronic version of the document or, in its place, to elaborate a public version in which its Transparency Committee issues a resolution that supports the classification of confidential data.
Finally, Ibarra commented that "At the moment of the health crisis we are experiencing and, specifically, the vaccination process that is underway and will continue in the coming months, to guarantee the disclosure of information in this matter is a way for citizens to renew their trust in the authorities and to continue evaluating the performance in these pressing times we are living in."