Mexico’s Vaccine Diplomacy: an Effort to Bring Production HomeBy Rodrigo Brugada | Tue, 04/27/2021 - 13:40
Mexico is still uncertain about when the third COVID-19 wave will ramp up. Vaccines are being administered at a steady pace and, on the surface, it appears that Mexico has the COVID-19 spread under control. However, there is a real risk of widespread contagion, much like the one the country saw earlier this year. Now, with Mexico forgoing vaccines that were agreed upon with India and with high-income countries blocking a waiver proposal for vaccines' intellectual property rights, the government is looking for different opportunities to secure vaccines.
One of these opportunities is looking east for help, following a trend among low and middle-income countries, as reported by WPR. Currently, Mexico's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, embarked to Russia as a part of a series of diplomatic trips to Moscow, Beijing and Washington, to expedite the fulfillment of vaccine shipments previously agreed. Earlier this year, the government stated that it expected to receive 7.4 million doses of Sputnik V by April and an additional 16.6 million doses in May, as reported by RFERL. As of the time of Ebrard's trip, Russia has shipped just 1.1 million doses to Mexico. This, among several other reasons, may allow Ebrard to secure Mexico is part of the bottling process for Sputnik V vaccines. This plan would probably mean a more expedited process for vaccination in Mexico and Latin America as a whole.
International vaccination efforts are no longer a matter of national security or international solidarity, but a fraught matter of soft geopolitical power that comes in a potentially historic shift in global hegemony surrounded by US-China-Russia tensions, as explored by the Association of Asia Scholars. Following high-income countries' decision to shift towards a protectionist stance and have themselves be vaccinated first instead of cooperating on the global scale, both China and Russia have taken a step towards bridging the gap left behind by, among others, the US. As analyzed in La Politica Online, this step forward has sparked concern in DC, as Russia and China's involvement in Latin America might mean a threat to US regional interests.
As Americas Quarterly discusses, Mexico must be wary of what bringing vaccines could mean in matters of foreign affairs, particularly with its northern neighbor, which receives around 80 percent of the country's exports. As Bloomberg previously discussed, Mexico has opted to go beyond the commercial approach to vaccines and has instead gone for a diplomatic one. How Mexico balances geopolitical tensions and the ensuring of vaccine doses remains to be seen.