MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday that the United Nations should convene an “urgent meeting” to deal with the problem of “hoarding” anti-COVID vaccine, claiming that the countries with laboratories that manufacture the several vaccines are doing so.
“It’s something that the UN should look at. It has to call an urgent meeting so that there’s no hoarding of vaccines because there are many countries that don’t have access to them, they don’t have any chance,” said the president, popularly known as AMLO, at his morning press conference at the National Palace.
In addition, he called for “mechanisms” to be implemented so that the Mexican resolution approved last year by the UN to promote equitable access to vaccines and medications during the coronavirus pandemic can be properly fulfilled.
After several weeks of seeing its vaccination plan stymied, Mexico launched on Monday its program to vaccinate adults over age 60 in 333 municipalities in 32 states thanks to the arrival on Sunday of a shipment of 870,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India.
AMLO admitted that it had “cost (the government) a lot” to secure the vaccine doses because “there’s a lot of demand, there’s little production and the governments that are producing the vaccines are holding on to them.”
“For example, all that Pfizer produces in the United States is for the United States. We receive the (doses) from Belgium, even when they’re manufactured in the United States,” he said.
He also said that “we had to speak” with the European Union because “they didn’t want (the vaccines) to leave Europe.”
In late January, because of the delays in shipments of the vaccines, the European Union established an application process for the export of pharmaceuticals, and on Feb. 9 guaranteed that it will authorize all shipments to Mexico.
Mexico, with its 126 million citizens, has requested 34.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 79.4 million of the AstraZeneca drug, 35 million of CanSino, 24 million of Russia’s Sputnik V, one million of China’s Sinovac and 51.1 million doses via the World Health Organization’s Covax platform.
But, after assorted delays, Mexico so far has received only the 870,000 Pfizer doses and just 86,000 people have received the two injections needed to ensure maximum immunity.
Lopez Obrador thanked on Monday the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having authorized the shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We made the request of them and they decided to send us the vaccine, for which we are grateful,” said AMLO, who emphasized the fact that India had shipped the vaccine even though it needs doses for its 1.3 billion people.
With 174,207 COVID-19 deaths so far, Mexico is in third place worldwide in terms of its official pandemic death toll, behind the US and Brazil.