Mexico and Argentina Ink a Deal with AstraZeneca to Produce and Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine in Latin America

Posted on 08/14/2020

According to medical experts, it took less than 10 days to map the genome sequence of COVID-19 DNA. More than 200 companies and organizations are pursuing vaccines – the race is on.

Earlier this week, Mexican and Argentinian governments announced that both countries entered an agreement with AstraZeneca PLC to produce the potential COVID-19 vaccine they are developing in collaboration with Oxford University. Other countries have signed similar agreements with AstraZeneca. Sylvia Varela, head of AstraZeneca Mexico, announced during a news conference on Thursday that the deal consists of initially producing 150 million doses of the vaccine, potentially reaching up to 400 million doses for distribution in Latin America (excluding Brazil, which has its own agreement with AstraZeneca). In the case that approval of the vaccine is successful, delivery is expected to start in the first semester of 2021.

The deal has some financing from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s foundation. The vaccine will be distributed in Latin American countries on a non-profit basis. The president of Mexico (Andrés Manuel López Obrador – AMLO), the third country in the world in terms of number of COVID-19 fatalities, said the vaccine would be distributed for free around the country. The Health Minister of Argentina expressed that they would prioritize access to the vaccine to the elderly, medical professionals, and people with pre-existing conditions. The deal comes at a time where Latin America has reached over 5 million COVID-19 cases and over 200,000 deaths, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University.

The AstraZeneca vaccine that is being developed in alliance with Oxford University is currently one of the most advanced; it’s in Phase 3 and being tested in thousands of volunteers in the U.K., Brazil, and South Africa. Oxford University announced that the vaccine showed being capable of producing an immunological response with no serious side effects, based on early trial data, and now its efficacy against the virus is being tested in Phase 3.

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