Mexico to Start More Vaccine TrialsBy Rodrigo Brugada | Thu, 05/27/2021 - 18:07
Mexico, like the rest of the world, is in dire need of more vaccines. While ramping up production of existing, approved vaccines may be a possible solution, it is also feasible to look for new vaccines in development. Mexico has currently approved six different vaccines and has five more undergoing trials. But three more vaccines are scheduled to start trials soon: the Chinese vaccine ARCoV developed by Walvax, the French-British vaccine VAT00008, developed by Sanofi-Pasteur in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, and the Mexican-US Patria vaccine.
The ARCoV vaccine uses mRNA technology and is thermostable at room temperature for at least one week. That is to say, it does not need to be stored at freezing temperatures, a perk that would ease transportation and delivery. It underwent one Phase II and two Phase I trials in China, enrolling a total of 708 participants. The phase III trial is scheduled to be a global, multi-center study involving 28,000 participants, 6,000 of which will be Mexican.
Earlier this year, Minister of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard announced that Mexico would take part in phase III trials for the Chinese Walvax vaccine candidate. The trials would begin after clearing COFEPRIS’ authorization process. The Minister also stated that, at the time, Mexico would be the only country outside of China to start these trials. Other countries in which this study may start include Colombia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey. The trials in Mexico are scheduled to begin on May 30.
The Sanofi-GSK vaccine uses recombinant protein subunits to elicit an immune response against the viral spike protein. Recruitment for this trial has not yet begun, and while it will include 37,430 participants, it is currently unknown how many of them will be Mexicans. One key aspect of this trial is that it pretends to evaluate responses to the original D.614 (Wuhan) virus and B.1.351 (South Africa) variant through a two-stage design in diverse geographies with multiple circulating variants.
An important thing to consider is that Mexico is among the most privileged countries regarding vaccinations. While Mexico has had a slow vaccine rollout, and millions of persons are waiting for a shot, there are countries with a desperate need that have received only a small fraction of the world’s production. This has prompted authorities to denounce barriers to equitable global distribution and to find ways of increasing supply.
Earlier this year, Ebrard stated the importance of vaccine self-sufficiency in Latin American. During a meeting, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) highlighted the importance of building a portfolio of Latin American-produced vaccines. Ebrard also reiterated that Mexico’s priority, in addition to its supply strategy, is to correct this inequity in vaccine distribution and promote better circumstances. On several occasions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had stated that it conducts a foreign policy that prioritizes the health of the Mexican people and it reaffirms its commitment to contributing to universal, timely and equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Several vaccines are intended to be produced in Mexico, including the Patria vaccine, which will soon begin Phase I trials with 90 participants. This potential increase in vaccine supply not only will ease vaccination efforts but may also increase the potential for Mexico to play a more significant role in regional and global vaccine supply and relief efforts.