This Week Vaccines Take the SpotlightBy Rodrigo Brugada | Thu, 05/27/2021 - 18:20
Vaccination is probably the most important topic in public health right now. As such, there is a well-justified sense of urgency to get vaccines and countries are doing all they can to ensure they can get more doses. This has led countries to seek to bring production within their borders and to make regional agreements for ensuring equity in distribution. Among other news, INSABI is taking steps forward to distribute medications, while the technological gap remains a problem for health. Read it all in this week’s roundup!
INSABI’s Distribution to Be Carried Out by Two Companies
While purchases for the health sector have been partially solved through UNOPS, INSABI had yet to assign distributors for the second half of the year. Now INSABI has decided to assign deliveries to two companies: Medica Farma Arcar and Vantage Servicios Integrales de Salud. Whether patients will finally have continuity in their treatment and better access to health remains to be seen.
Digitalization as a Social Determinant of Health
Digitalization is increasingly playing a significant role in healthcare in the form of medical devices and novelty software , which are increasing health literacy and treatment adherence. Still, poor access to technology blocks digitalization from generating a fully inclusive healthcare system. Digitalization has come to play a significant role in more than one SDH and poor or limited access to technology can have a significant impact on many of them. This is important in a country where many families in the country still lack access to internet.
Addressing the lack of technology access has become a global problem, and bridging these gaps might bring about better healthcare systems that can document overall population-level metrics, examine disparities, implement solutions and track changes over time. Ideally, digitalization’s goal is to offer less expensive healthcare with higher quality services.
Mexico’s Lost Health Workers
While the pandemic hit everywhere hard, Mexico’s health workers suffered disproportionate losses. Official reports estimate that the number of lives lost stands between 3,885 and 4,000, so far. There have been many controversies surrounding Mexico’s handling of the pandemic and its widespread effects. One of the most important complaints has to do with institutional violations and denial of proper PPE and vaccines.
Mexico needs to work harder to ensure safety for all its healthcare personnel, while also creating better infrastructure, working conditions, health professions education and quality of care.
Mexico’s Path Towards Herd Immunity
The Deputy Minister of Health Prevention and Promotion Hugo López-Gatell announced on a Tuesday press release that Mexico is on its way to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19. By his estimations, this social protection could come as early as August. Mexico is currently experiencing a sustained downward trend in new infections and will probably begin June with more than 15 percent of its population having received at least one dose of the vaccine. Moreover, previous infection can also confer immunity.
López-Gatell added that Mexico needs to reach about 75 percent of immune individuals to achieve this protection. For his part, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated that Mexico aims to ensure that the entirety of its population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by October.
Mexico's Vaccine Agreements: An Overview
Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard introduced the Diplomatic Management Platform, which explains Mexico’s COVID-19 vaccine contracts, making Mexico one of the first countries in the world to make all operations and procedures to obtain COVID-19 vaccines transparent.
Mexico has so far received almost 35.5 million doses and has also begun packaging vaccines manufactured in Argentina for their distribution in Latin America. The country is expected to package 6.02 million CanSino and 25.78 million AstraZeneca doses.
Mexico, Argentina Joint Efforts for Latin America
Mexico and Argentina are reviewing the development of a joint platform to respond to health emergencies with a Latin American perspective, highlighting the importance of regional cooperation as Mexico is planning to send COVID-19 vaccines to other countries. The goal is that both countries can build a bridge from the north to the south of Latin America. It also aims to involve all countries in the region in the construction of a global pillar of development and well-being.
Meanwhile, Mexico has begun vaccinating teachers and pregnant women in the country, reaching over 26.47 million vaccinated people. In less than a month, total vaccinations more than doubled.
Mexico to Start More Vaccine Trials
Mexico, like the rest of the world, is in dire need of more vaccines. Mexico has currently approved six different vaccines and has five more undergoing clinical trials. Three more vaccines are scheduled to start trials soon: ARCoV developed by Walvax, VAT00008, developed by Sanofi-Pasteur, and Patria, developed by CONACyT-Avimex.
The ARCoV vaccine uses mRNA technology and is thermostable at room temperature for at least one week. Its phase III trial will involve 28,000 participants, 6,000 of which will be Mexican. 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, but it will include 37,430 participants. The Patria vaccine will soon begin Phase I trials and will include 90 participants.