Mexico, Argentina to produce AstraZeneca Oxford COVID-19 vaccine

The AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine against COVID-19 has shown promising results in early trials

Mexico, Argentina to produce AstraZeneca Oxford COVID-19 vaccine
The vaccine would be ready by the first hald of 2021 - Photo: Antonio Larceda/EFE
English 13/08/2020 12:25 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Alberto Morales, Pedro Villa y Caña, Carla Martínez, Ariadna García/EL UNIVERSAL & Newsroom/EFE Actualizada 12:25

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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador led the formal announcement of an agreement between AstraZeneca, the University of Oxford, and the Carlos Slim Foundation for the production of a vaccine against COVID-19 in Mexico.

López Obrador stressed that the agreement for the production of the COVID-19 vaccine, both by Mexico and Argentina, means calm and health that will contribute to ending with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

“It’s really something exceptional that will help us a lot to keep hope alive and to end uncertainty and to have the possibility of a healthy life,” said president López Obrador in his morning news conference.

At the National Palace, along with Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard, businessman Carlos Slim Domit, Silvia Varela, from AstraZeneca, and Health Minister Jorge Alcocer, Mexico’s President underscored the support received from the Carlos Slim Foundation.

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As well as “from the (AstraZeneca) laboratory and the University of Oxford that have trusted in Mexico; it’s a sum of wills; it’s the research being done by a specialized company with a serious research center, the Carlos Slim Foundation, and in the case of Latin America, the governments of Argentina and Mexico,”

President López Obrador asserted that Marcelo Ebrard was very vigilant of all the arrangements needed for the production of the vaccine with the medical and scientific support of Health Minister Jorge Alcocer and Health undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell.

The vaccine in Mexico, phase 3
Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón said that the production of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca to fight COVID-19 – and which will be produced in Mexico and Argentina – is the most advanced in the world and there are plans to produce between 150 and 250 million doses.

The minister asserted the objective is to help the Latin American population to have access to the vaccine, which is currently in phase 3 and whose final results are expected by November.

At the National Place, Ebrard said Mexico is partaking in all multilateral efforts to produce a cure for the pandemic and said that the final results of the vaccine will be presented to the COFEPRIS in November.

“Instead of the vaccine being available within a year, it will arrive six or seven months earlier, and that difference means everything for the economy, health, everything,” he asserted.

He added that a laboratory in Argentina and Mexico will participate in the final production of the vaccine and it will be then distributed throughout Latin America.

The Carlos Slim Foundation said “this agreement will initially provide 150 million doses in the región, except for Brazil, that will be covered by the agreement between AstraZeneca and the Brazilian government announced last June. The first deliveries are expected for the first half of 2021, in case the clinical trials are successful.”

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca announced the preliminary results of phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in the United Kingdom that showed solid immune responses against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in all participants.

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Universal and free access to the vaccine
Mexicos COVID-19 czar Hugo López-Gatell explained during the news conference that Mexico’s government plans for the vaccine to be universal and free.

President López Obrador assured the COVID-19 vaccine that will be produced in Mexico will be free and universal for all Mexicans and asserted the most vulnerable sectors will not be left behind.

“Other countries can choose to charge or select who will be vaccinated; we, in order for there to be no doubts and to assure our people, all Mexicans will have access to the vaccine, poor people must not worry; the vaccine is guaranteed for them, they will not be left behind,” he said.

As of the Russian vaccine, Ebrard said that “we have asked for information, (Russia’s government) is being open.”

On Wednesday, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández announced his country, along with Mexico, will produce for Latin America the vaccine against the new coronavirus developed by the AstraZeneca laboratory in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

Argentina will produce the active substance and Mexico “will be in charge of packing the vaccine and finishing its production process.”

He stresses this agreement will allow Latin American countries to have access to the vaccine at affordable prices.

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According to him, the vaccine will cost between USD $3 and $4 and will be ready for the first quarter of 2021.

Sylvia Varela, president and general director of AstraZeneca Mexico, informed that although there is still not a set cost for the vaccine, it will not cost over USD $4.

For his part, López Obrador urged the population not to relax with the implementation of health measures: “Unfortunately, we will keep suffering from the pandemic and we must keep taking care of ourselves; this is very important, it’s not the same to keep doing so without the hope for a vaccine.”

Hugo López Gatell stressed the pandemic has no tended and that people must keep practicing protective measures like physical distancing, wearing face masks, washing our hands frequently, and staying home.

He said that one of the strategies for administering the vaccine could be to start with the high-risk population.

According to what was announced on Wednesday, the vaccine is called AZ1222 and although the project is not Mexican or Latin American per se, its production will take place in a national laboratory as well as in one in Argentina.

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The agreement
President López Obrador asserted the agreement was made during his visit to Washington D.C. last July. Back then, he visited the neighboring company along with several businessmen, including Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world.

According to López Obrador, Carlos Slim talked to him about the possibility of producing the vaccine in Mexico and the President gave him authorization “as with other initiatives.”

“Argentina’s President called me yesterday. I knew about the agreement by 4 pm but I couldn’t talk to him at that moment. We spoke at 7 pm,” said López Obrador.

Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim will participate in the project with venture capital through his foundation

López Obrador said the agreement will also mean our country will use less than MXN $25 billion from next year’s MXN $100 billion Budget.

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Liomont, a Mexican pharmaceutical company
Since 1938, the pharmaceutical Company Liomont is the leader in the production of drugs at a global level.

Liomont has one of the most modern pharmaceutical plants in Latin America, providing work for 1,500 people and with a production capacity of 120 million units per year.

For 80 years, Liomont has been a 100% Mexican company with prescription and over-the-counter drugs that is currently in the 8th place of the national pharmaceutical market.